Criminal Enforcement Case HighlightsCriminal enforcement, with its possibility of incarceration, as well as monetary fines, is the strongest sanction against serious or intentional violations of environmental law. EPA's criminal enforcement program investigates cases under all environmental statutes, as well as associated violations of Title 18, the U.S. Criminal Code (e.g., false statements, conspiracy, fraud, obstruction of justice). The criminal program also works cooperatively with and provides investigative and prosecutorial support to states and other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (e.g., criminal cases involving pipeline or transportation spills of oil or hazardous substances) or the U.S. Department of Interior (e.g., criminal cases involving violations of the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). Therefore, defendants can also be sentenced under other federal or state criminal statutes as well as the environmental statutes enforced by EPA.
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BP Products North America
BP Products North America Inc. paid a $50 million criminal fine (the largest ever assessed under the Clean Air Act) and will serve three years of probation after pleading guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act. BP was criminally investigated by EPA for its conduct that resulted in the fatal explosion on March 23, 2005, at its Texas City refinery which killed 15 contract workers and injured over 170 others. This is the first prosecution under a section of the Clean Air Act specifically enacted to prevent accidental releases that may result in death or serious injury. The provision was passed by Congress in 1990 in response to an explosion at the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India causing thousands of injuries and deaths. [More Information]
John Wood and Curtis Collins, J & W Construction, Inc.
John Wood, operator of J & W Construction, Inc., a New York asbestos abatement company, and Curtis Collins, an employee, pleaded guilty and were sentenced for violating the Clean Air Act through illegal asbestos removal and disposal activities. Wood was sentenced to serve four years in prison and paid restitution to victims of $854,166.06. Collins was sentenced to two years in prison. Wood directed his employees to perform “rip and run” removals that left substantial quantities behind, significantly contaminating numerous businesses and homes. Wood also deceived clients into believing that all asbestos had been removed by working with a licensed air monitor to falsify air samples. [More Information]
Shore Terminals LLC, was sentenced to pay $2.5 million, a $1.75 million fine and $750,000 to community service projects that are designed to improve air quality in the Bay Area, after pleading guilty to four felony counts of submitting false annual reports to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the U.S. EPA. Shore Terminals distributed petroleum products and ethanol stored in its tank farm in Selby, California. When Shore Terminals loaded trucks, significant amounts of volatile organic compounds would be emitted into the ambient air unless Shore Terminals captured those pollutants with a vapor recovery unit to avoid the creation of smog. Shore Terminals vapor recovery unit periodically to malfunctioned and shut down. The company falsely certified its facility was in compliance with the Clean Air Act. [More Information]
Heraeus Metal Processing
Heraeus Metal Processing, Inc. paid a $350,000 fine and will serve 18 months probation after pleading guilty to making a false material statement regarding the operation of air pollution control equipment at its metal processing plant in Wartburg, Tennessee. The company falsified the record books (logs) for baghouse pressure and scrubber systems, which are pollution control devices that remove dust and other pollutants from furnace flue gases. [More Information]
Erler Industries Inc., pled guilty to two Clean Air Act felony counts of knowingly submitting false quarterly reports. Erler owns and operates a paint coatings facility for metal and plastic parts in North Vernon, Indiana which emits volatile organic compounds (VOC). In 2003 and 2004, Erler falsely reported its VOC emissions to appear to have stayed within the required emissions limitations on each plant. Erler was ordered to pay a $1,000,000 criminal fine ($500,000 to be suspended if Erler complies with all terms of its probation), as well as pay $25,000 in restitution to the Midwest Environmental Enforcement Association and $100,000 in restitution to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. In addition the firm must serve one year on probation for one year with the special provisions that it 1) develop an environmental training program for its employees, 2) develop and implement a zero tolerance policy for environmental violations, 3) conduct an environmental audit of its facility, and 4) make a public apology in a local newspaper. [More Information]
Hershey Creamery Company
The Hershey Creamery Company paid a $100,000 fine and was placed on one year probation after it pled guilty to a Clean Air Act felony involving its failure to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan concerning the storage and use of a regulated substance, anhydrous ammonia, at two of its facilities in Pennsylvania. This was only the second prosecution involving RMPs in the country. Anhydrous ammonia is flammable and can irritate skin and eyes. Clean Air Act regulations required Hershey to develop and implement a Risk Management Program for each facility to, among other things, protect worker safety, minimize the chance of a release from refrigeration processes at the facilities that would endanger workers and surrounding communities, and to develop and implement prevention and emergency response plans. [More Information]
ExxonMobil Pipeline Company
ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation, paid a total of $6 million in projects and fines for a 2006 Boston Harbor oil spill. ExxonMobil’s inadequate oversight and maintenance of its Everett, Massachusetts, marine distribution terminal resulted in a spill of approximately 15,000 gallons of diesel oil into the Mystic River and Boston Harbor in January 2006. [More Information]
American River Transportation Company
The American River Transportation Company (ARTCO), St. Louis, Missouri, was sentenced to pay a $3 million fine after pleading guilty to the illegal discharge of oil and other pollutants into the Mississippi River, and for concealing the source of the oil from emergency responders. Two ARTCO employees, Steven Keilwitz and Justin Baker, were each sentenced to one year probation after pleading guilty to making a false statement to authorities.
Michael Panyard, Charles Long, Comprehensive Environmental Solutions Inc.
Charles Long, a former plant manager of the Dearborn, Michigan, wastewater treatment company, Comprehensive Environmental Solutions Inc, was sentenced to two years in prison and two years probation, and Michael Panyard, the company’s former general manager, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for conspiring to discharge nearly 13 million gallons of untreated liquid waste into the Dearborn sanitary sewer. They then concealed evidence of the illegal discharge through false statements and tampering with legally required compliance samples. The company was sentenced to pay a $600,000 criminal fine, provide $150,000 in court-ordered environmental projects and to serve five years probation. Two other plant employees were sentenced to probation. [More Information]
Keith David Rosenblum, Eco Finishing Co.
Keith David Rosenblum, chief executive officer and president of Eco Finishing Company, a Fridley, Minnesota, metal finishing business, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and paid $250,000 in restitution for violating the Clean Water Act and the U.S. Criminal Code. Rosenblum conspired to discharge chromium, zinc and cyanide in the company’s industrial wastewater at well above permitted levels. The investigation also revealed that the company on several occasions altered its production and wastewater treatment practices when regulators were conducting on-site compliance testing. The alterations were designed to deceive the government by limiting the discharge of pollutants when the company was being monitored. Meister, the company’s plant manager, was convicted of eight counts of negligent violations of the Clean Water Act, was fined $2,501 and received two years probation. [More Information]
Johnson Matthey, Inc.
Johnson Matthey, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation, was sentenced to pay $3 million in fines and restitution for violating the Clean Water Act at its Salt Lake City, Utah, precious metals refining facility. The company knowingly submitted false reports of selenium levels to environmental regulators in order to cover up that the discharge consistently exceeded permit limits. The former plant manager and the former general manager were also sentenced to one year probation after pleading guilty to submitting false statements to the local sewer district. [More Information]
Brusco Tug & Barge, Inc
Brusco Tug & Barge, Inc., was sentenced to pay a total monetary payment of $1.5 million, with $750,000 to be paid as a fine, and $250,000 to be paid to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to fund environmental projects relating to marine and coastal habitats and watersheds in the Bay Area, after pleading guilty to one felony count of violating the Clean Water Act by discharging dredged material without a permit directly into waters of the United States near San Francisco. The remaining $500,000 will go to fund the creation and implementation of an Environmental Compliance Plan at Brusco. The company was also placed on three years probation. [More Information]
STX Pan Ocean Co., Ltd.
STX Pan Ocean Co., Ltd., owner of the Korean cargo ship M/V Ocean Jade, paid a $2.2 million fine, $200,000 in court–ordered environmental projects and will serve four years probation for improper disposal of oily waste and sludge at sea. In July and September 2008, crew members discharged oily waste directly overboard before filtering it through proper pollution prevention equipment, as required by federal and international law. Furthermore, when the ship arrived in the Port of Tampa in October 2008, its officers presented false oil and garbage record books, and several crew members made false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard regarding the dumping. [More Information]
Novozymes Biologicals, Inc
Novozymes Biologicals, Inc. a Salem, Virginia, subsidiary of Denmark-based Novozymes A/S, one of the largest biotechnology firms in the world, was sentenced to three years probation, given a $275,000 fine and will spend a minimum of $250,000 in community service projects after pleading guilty to one count of illegally discharging pollutants into Masons Creek, a tributary of the Roanoke River, without a permit. Novozyme’s Salem plant manufactures, packages, stores and distributes a wide variety of industrial microbiological products used for wastewater treatment, soil remediation, septic and drain line maintenance and grease degradation The company dumped over 4,000 gallons of off–specification and outdated products through a floor drain at its Salem plant. The drain fed these waste materials directly to an adjacent creek. Three minor children playing in and around the creek came in contact with the pollutants and suffered minor skin rashes and eye irritation. In addition, approximately 6,670 fish were killed along the stream. [More Information]
Dile Kent McNair, Extreme Metal Finishing, Inc.
Dile Kent McNair, operator of the Point, Texas, metal plating business Extreme Metal Finishing, Inc., was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for storage of thousands of gallons of hazardous wastes without a permit. McNair is a repeat offender. He and the former metal plating companies that he has operated have extensive histories of environmental noncompliance. [More Information]
Alan D. Hersh, Hassan Barrel Company
Alan D. Hersh, former owner of the Fort Wayne, Indiana, barrel recycler Hassan Barrel Company, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and to pay $1.7 million in restitution for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act when he abandoned the recycling site, leaving behind thousands of chemical-containing drums. [More Information]
Kevin Hester and Lyle Hester, Simply Aquatics
Kevin Hester, owner of Simply Aquatics, Inc., Kirbyville, Texas, and his father, Lyle Hester, were sentenced to prison after being convicted of disposing of hazardous waste without a permit. They also paid $195,721 in restitution. Kevin Hester was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment and three years probation, while his father was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment and three years probation .They buried compressed gas cylinders which contained a combined total of 952 lbs. of chlorine gas, without the proper manifest and without a permit. [More Information]
Moshe Rubashkin and Sholom Rubashkin, Montex Textiles
Moshe Rubashkin, owner and operator of Montex Textiles, Allentown, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 16 months in prison for illegally storing hazardous waste at his factory. His son, Shalom, was sentenced to four months in prison for making a false statement to EPA and obstructing the investigation. The Rubashkins also jointly paid $450,000 in restitution for a Superfund removal that had to be taken at the site. [More Information]
Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company
Phillipsburg, New Jersey, based Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. (a division of McWane, Inc. of Alabama) paid a fine of $8 million for engaging in an eight-year conspiracy to pollute the air and Delaware River in violation of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, exposing its employees to dangerous conditions and impeding and obstructing federal regulatory and criminal investigations. Four former Atlantic states managers were also sentenced to federal prison terms. Former plant manager John Prisque was sentenced to 70 months, former human resources manager Scott Faubert was sentenced to 41 months, former maintenance superintendent Jeffrey Maury was sentenced to 30 months, and former finishing department head Craig Davidson was sentenced to six months. [More Information]
IMS Safety, Inc.
John Meyer, former vice president of IMS Safety, Inc. of Middletown, New York, was sentenced to two years in prison, three years probation and ordered to pay $1,035,000 in restitution for participating in a conspiracy to defraud the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Christopher Rotante, another former vice president of IMS, was sentenced to one year in prison, three years probation and will pay $2,070,000 in restitution. The conspiracy occurred in connection with IMS’s contracts to provide safety oversight at DEP construction sites. IMS misrepresented the experience and training of the people it provided to oversee worker safety. As a result of the fraud, DEP paid more than $1 million for jobs performed by the personnel about whom the false representations were made. [More information]
Matthew E. Burghoff, Ford Condominiums
Matthew Burghoff, St. Louis, Missouri, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for bank fraud and violations of the Clean Air Act involving his renovation of the Ford Building and other buildings and businesses in the St. Louis area. Burghoff was the owner, operator and developer of the Ford Building and was overseeing renovation work at the building. Samples taken ultimately showed that the renovation was violating requirements regarding the safe handling and removal of asbestos containing material. In addition the defendant received over $1.6 million in bank loans to renovate building for commercial use. Ultimately, those funds were used for personal expenses and acquisitions. [More Information]
Greenleaf, L.L.C, Neosho, Missouri, paid a $200,000 maximum fine for violating federal statutes that regulate the sale and distribution of pesticides. Greenleaf received broken bags and unwanted pesticides from every Wal-Mart store across the country last year then resold the products after removing or defacing the labeling on the package. The amount of pesticides distributed in this fashion exceeded two million pounds. [More Information]