CWA CrimeBox For the week of June 19-25, 2023
Environmental Crimes: Fiscal Year 2015; Case ID# CR_2755 (Louisiana)
CWA violation with grand jury obstruction gets Baton Rouge businessman half a million in fines and restitution
Historic CWA Prosecution: Fiscal Year 2015; Case ID# CR 2755
The following summarizes one of sixty-six Clean Water Act Prosecutions in Louisiana since 1990The defendant in this case was a business owner/operator who pled guilty to obstruction of justice and guilty in violation of the Clean Water Act for unpermitted wastewater discharges made from 2009 to 2012.
The defendant’s company performed clean-out services for tanks used in the transportation of chemicals and food grade products. The defendant held a discharge permit for the release of wastewater generated through this tank cleaning process into the Baton Rouge sanitary sewer system, subject to standard monitoring and reporting terms.
The federal district court in Baton Rouge received information showing the defendant had begun accepting third party wastewater in 2009. The court heard that the defendant was asked the nature of the business on “numerous occasions” wherein misrepresentations were made in order to conceal the unpermitted discharge. In 2012 a federal grand jury investigation into defendant’s wastewater discharges subpoenaed discharge records and documents. The defendant gave a false statement to investigators about the completeness of the document disclosure in 2013.
“The individual charged in this case avoided paying over $24,000 in sewer user fees by under reporting the amount of pollutants discharged to the city’s sewage collection system,” said Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Peggy Hatch. “We take issue with any individual or business who side-steps compliance by under reporting in the name of profit. We will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure compliance and keep the playing field level for the people and businesses out there who willing to doing it right.”
U.S. Attorney on the case stated, “This office is committed to investigating and prosecuting criminal violations of the federal environmental laws. Such laws are in place to protect health and promote safety across our region, and compliance with the laws should not be disregarded as an administrative burden or tossed aside in an effort to maximize profit. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute fraudulent conduct, including in this important area of the law.”
“EPA and its regulatory partners depend on accurate self-reporting to help ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act,” said Ivan Vikin, Special Agent-in-Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Louisiana. “Despite orders to stop, the defendant continued his illegal actions and falsified reports to cover his tracks. This case demonstrates that those who knowingly put public health at risk can expect to face the consequences in court.”
Federal fine: $6,000 Probation: 48 months; Restitution: $475,700
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