DURHAM — A Jiffy Lube mechanic was jailed on a felony charge Tuesday after a Duke University librarian said he solicited $30 to overlook worn tires that would cause her Lexus to flunk a safety inspection.
Officers for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles arrested Joshua C. Clark, 28, who works at a Jiffy Lube outlet on N.C. 55 in southern Durham. He was jailed in lieu of $1,000 bail.
"I'm sorry to see anybody get into trouble, but this was his doing," said Rosalyn Raeford, who complained about Clark to DMV after her Nov. 1 inspection. "I'm sorry that has happened to him, but I'm not sorry I reported it."
Raeford took her 2001 Lexus in for the state-mandated inspection and said she was surprised when Clark told her that three tires would have to be replaced because of worn treads.
Then, she said, Clark lowered his voice and suggested a way to pass inspection without new tires.
"He said, 'Well, if you give me $30, I'll pass the inspection.' I said, 'You mean an additional $30?' And he said, 'Yes,' " Raeford said. "I felt they were trying to scam me."
She accepted the failing grade and paid Jiffy Lube for the inspection. She took the car to her Lexus dealer, where a second inspection found that the tires were safe.
Raeford's car was flagged on DMV's computer network for passing inspection at one station shortly after failing it somewhere else. A DMV inspector visited Raeford's home the next day to see whether a car with unsafe tires had passed inspection illegally. He examined the tires and confirmed that the car was safe.
The News & Observer reported Raeford's story Tuesday but withheld details about her complaint that Clark had solicited the cash payment.
Clark, of 2519 S. Roxboro St. in Durham, could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for Raleigh-based Quick 10 Corp., a Triangle-area franchisee for Jiffy Lube, said Clark offered a different account of his exchange with Raeford.
Mike D. Davis, a Quick 10 vice president, said Monday that Clark told his supervisor that Raeford had been upset about the prospect of failing inspection. She told him she would get the car inspected elsewhere. Clark said he warned her she would have to pay an additional $30 fee for the second inspection, after paying Jiffy Lube for the first inspection, Davis said.
Clark was charged with one of the most serious violations of state car inspection laws. It is a felony for an inspector to solicit or accept anything of value in order to pass a vehicle that has failed inspection.
DMV inspectors also charged him with an infraction in connection with another car, a 1995 Toyota that Clark first failed and then passed with a nonworking emergency brake, DMV said. Investigators say they uncovered the earlier violation while investigating Raeford's complaint.