Auto Care USA raided, employees arrested

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Three employees of Auto Care USA were arrested last Thursday at the popular Canyon Lake business on multiple felony charges relating to its smog inspection services. Owner Paul Chenette, manager Chad Russell and mechanic Daniel Blancato were taken into custody June 25, booked at Southwest Detention Center and then released on $25,000 bail each. Their court date is set for August 20 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Following the arrests, Auto Care USA was closed for the remainder of the day, but reopened for regular hours the following morning. Chad, who was back on the job Friday, said car repairs were continuing as usual, but the smog inspection program would not resume until the smog equipment, which was seized by the agents making the arrests, was returned. Chad told The Friday Flyer he wasn’t clear about what was going on with the arrests and charges, but he assured everyone that the charges had nothing to do with the safety of repairs to their vehicles.

All three men were arrested by the District Attorney’s Office on four felony charges each that included falsifying smog checks and violations of the motor vehicle smog inspection program.

Many residents responded to the arrests on social media by expressing their appreciation for Auto Care USA and its employees and commenting on the good service they had received there. Auto Care USA was voted Canyon Lake Business of the Year in 2005, 2009 and 2011. Paul is a past Canyon Lake Citizen of the Year and CLPOA Board President.

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Sharon Rice