Ramono approved a fake safety to a vehicle involved in a crash that killed a Peterborough, Ont. woman.
Joe Ramono has been jailed for issuing a fake safety certificate for a vehicle involved in a fatal crash.
He will serve five months in prison, followed by two years of probation and 48 hours of community service.
He cannot work as a vehicle technician, nor inspect vehicles during his probation. However, once that period is up, he is free to work as a mechanic provided that he can obtain a licence.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Stephen Bale announced the sentencing Oct. 27 in Peterborough, Ont.
In delivering his nearly 30-minute long reasons for the sentence, the judge said the sentence must denounce Ramono’s actions, deter others from thinking of doing the same and protect the public.
“The sentence must serve to deter both this offender and likeminded individuals from committing the same or similar crimes,” Bale said.
Ramono had his head lowered throughout the proceedings, except for when the judge asked him to stand in order to speak directly to him when delivering the verdict. He did not speak, other than to acknowledge that he understood Bale’s decision.
“The sentence must serve
to deter both this offender
and likeminded individuals from
committing the same or similar crimes.”
— Ontario Superior Court Justice Stephen Bale
Defence lawyer Glenn Orr did speak on his client’s behalf, noting as he did before that his client is remorseful and asked that the judge allow Ramono to continue working as a technician.
“It’s one thing to lose part of his privileges – to lose them all is sort of a death penalty to his career [and] to his life,” Orr said before the judge gave his reasons.
Bale agreed. “He needs to work and motor vehicle mechanics is the vocation,” he explained in his reasons, though he did acknowledge that it would be “unlikely” for Ramono to be licenced to conduct inspections “in the near future.”
Assistant crown attorney Lisa Wannamaker sought six to nine months in jail, after which time he would receive three years of probation. His terms would include not to act as a technician or any other post in the automotive trade, nor seek a license to run an automotive business. She also asked that Ramono be forced to complete a large number of hours of community service.
Bale maintained that Ramono was in a position of trust, one that he took advantage of in order to illegally profit.
“In doing so, he knowingly put the public at risk,” he added.
Ramono abused his position of trust by saying a Dodge pickup truck was safe when it was in fact not. It was involved in a deadly crash in 2012. The vehicle never should have been on the road in the first place, the Crown said. Abigail MacNaughton, 27, of Peterborough died that day.
Ramono was found not guilty, however, of being criminally negligent.
The defence was seeking a suspended sentence. That means a conviction is registered – unlike a conditional discharge – and the offender is given conditions within a probation order.
However, Bale did not believe the defence’s option fit the crime that was committed. He also did not go as far as the Crown’s recommendation as he accepted items, such as employment, as mitigating factors.
“I accept that he is doing his best to support his wife and himself without the illegitimate income to which he had been accustomed,” he said, adding that the effect of the five-year long litigation against Ramono was also a consideration.
In late September, Orr painted a bleak picture of Ramono. He said his client had “fallen on evil times” and was suffering as a result of what happened. He sought leniency for Ramono, whose life has been “shattered.” He can’t work in his industry as a result of his conviction, Orr noted.
Ramono was handcuffed in the courtroom and led away by Peterborough police following Bale’s verdict.
‘Being held accountable’
For Sharri MacNaughton, whose daughter died in the crash, it was a victory.
“I’m quite pleased after all this time, after five years, I’m glad to turn the page. But I’m really happy for the outcome. I really am because they need to be accountable. My daughter died,” she said following the sentencing.
“Justice has been served. My daughter did not die in vain. She caught a bad guy.”
MacNaughton was also happy for the service and repair industry as it meant an unscrupulous member was out of the industry. But she knew Ramono was a “bad apple” in an industry where there are many good people.
“I know there’s a lot of mechanics out there who take pride in their work,” she said. “I’m glad this man is being held accountable.
One thing here is to hold the technician accountable but leniency should be out of the question based on his history. There should be a push on holding the seller of the vehicle legally responsible as well. This would really send a message to the public that request these illegal inspection certificates. When they request these illegal safeties they do so with complete disregard to public safety and should be held accountable legally.
Fraudulent safety inspections are way more wide spread than anybody can even imagine. The people seeking out these are also guilty to a degree. Certainly not to the degree that the technician that writes these phoney inspections are but if they were not seeking them out the tecks would not have such a huge market for them. Safety inspections are supposed to help SAVE lives.
Why would any technician or shop owner even do this? Why put your lively hood on the line for a few hundred bucks? The people you supply the fake safety to are not “good” customers, don’t care about others, and will not back you up when something as awful as a death or injury happens. As a shop owner I get asked a lot for fake safeties, and each time I kick those customers out of the shop. We are know as a shop that is strict with safety inspections, we just follow the rules and add in a little common sense.
Look at his past:
A guilty plea in 2007 of selling pre-signed safety certificates to a used-car dealership;
* A guilty plea in 2008 to charges of selling fraudulent safeties;
* A guilty plea in 2016 of several cases of selling fraudulent safeties and poor record-keeping in 2012; and
* Several letters of warning from MTO for infractions related to issuing safety certificates.
So the message I take from this is the consequences are not that bad, even as a worst case scenario. I wonder how much more (or less) he would have had to do to get manslaughter charge? Maybe if he left a loaded gun in the glovebox that would still not be enough. Did he not think someone was going to drive this 5000lbs of steel junk on a highway near other people? Was it reasonably foreseeable it was going to be used on private roads? I doubt it. You can make thousands of dollars from illegally certifying vehicles, by just signing a piece of paper, and the chances of getting caught (statistically) are probably really low. Typical wimpy Canadian laws. This situation probably encourages other idiot mechanics to continue this practice. My heart goes to the family of the lost victim. So sad.
What about all the vehicles on the road in Ontario that are unsafe simply because once purchased a vehicle never has to be safety inspected until it is resold!
It’s the government’s fault for accidents that happen due to mechanical failures!
In April 1999 Drive Clean came in effect and vehicles had to be tested for emissions every two years.
I think more importantly mechanical safety inspections should be done every two years !!