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March 2, 2020

A man in Colorado who was part of a tax fraud scheme involving renewable fuel credits has been sentenced to nearly 7 years in prison and ordered to pay $7.2 million in restitution.  Along with co-conspirators, Matthew Taylor created a fake company, Shintan Inc., that they then used to seek out and obtain over $7.2 million in tax credits for renewable fuel that Shintan never actually produced.  The fraud ran from 2010 to 2013 and personally netted Taylor about $4.5 million.  DOJ

February 3, 2020

Apparel manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide, Inc., has reached a $69.5 million settlement with Michigan and local entities in the state to resolve claims that company operations polluted residential drinking wells with PFAS.  Wolverine has agreed to pay to extend municipal water to more than 1,000 properties, conduct groundwater investigations to monitor contamination, and undertake other monitoring and response activities.  MI

January 30, 2020

Kohler Co. agreed to pay a $20 million civil penalty and retire unlawfully generated emissions credits to resolve claims that it manufactured and sold "small SI" engines used in mowers, landscaping equipment, and generators, that incorporated emissions "defeat devices" designed to cheat emissions testing standards.  Kohler admitted that it falsely certified its test procedures, failed to make required adjustments to testing, failed to properly disclose the functioning of its emission control devices, and failed to comply with testing requirements.  EPA/DOJ/CA

January 10, 2020

Punch It Performance and Tuning, together with related entities and individuals, has agreed to stop manufacturing and selling aftermarket emissions defeat devices, and pay a civil penalty of $850,000.  The products sold by Punch It included hardware and software designed to hack into and reprogram a motor vehicle’s electronic control module to alter engine performance and enable the removal of filters, catalysts and other critical emissions controls that reduce air pollution. Such products are illegal under the Clean Air Act.  USAO MD FL

October 15, 2019

Nederland Shipping Company and Chartworld Shipping Company, the Liberia-incorporated owners and operators of a the cargo ship M/V NEDERLAND REEFER, have agreed to pay $1.8 million for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).  During a Coast Guard inspection of the ship at a port in Delaware, inspectors found that chief engineer Vasileios Mazarakis was routinely tricking an oil content monitoring device into discharging oily water at sea before it could be processed by an Oily Water Separator (OWS), then falsifying the ship’s Oil Record Book (ORB).  Mazarakis eventually plead guilty to falsifying the ORB as well as obstructing the Coast Guard’s investigation.  The companies will be placed on a four-year probation period to ensure that company ships entering U.S. waters comply with applicable maritime laws.  The APPS has a whistleblower reward provisions that incentivizes the reporting of this sort of illegal activity. DOJ

September 30, 2019

Charles Jansky and his companies Somont Oil Company and Ferdig Oil Company will pay $137,500 to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act arising from the underpayment of royalties allegedly owing for the pumping of natural gas from federal leases in Montana held by Somont.  In reporting gas produced, Somont failed to disclose the relationship between Somont, Ferdig, and Jansky.  USAO MT

June 18, 2019

Auto parts retailer AutoZone, Inc., has agreed to pay $11 million to the State of California and its political subdivisions to resolve charges that the company illegally disposed of hazardous waste by allowing its customers to deposit hazardous automotive fluids and other waste items into regular trash containers in AutoZone stores’ parking lots throughout California.  The company was also found to have improperly disposed confidential consumer information. CA

September 19, 2019

Following an earlier criminal plea, Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas Inc. and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd have agreed to pay a $47 million civil penalty to resolve allegations that the company violated Title II of the Clean Air Act by marketing and selling heavy construction vehicles that did not comply with applicable emission standards.  Hyundai had stockpiled diesel engines that met outdated standards, including standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), then illegally imported the non-compliant equipment to the U.S.  The EPA opened an investigation into Hyundai after receiving a whistleblower tip in 2015.  DOJ

September 12, 2019

Performance Diesel Inc. will pay a civil penalty of $1.1 million and terminate its sale of aftermarket products meant to defeat the emissions control systems of heavy-duty diesel engines.  The settlement with DOJ and the EPA resolves allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act in manufacturing, selling, and installing illegal defeat devices. DOJ

September 5, 2019

Italian shipping company d'Amico Shipping Italia S.p.A. will pay $4 million following a guilty plea on charges that violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by deliberately concealing that crew on its oil tanker the M/T Cielo di Milano intentionally bypassed pollution prevention equipment and discharged bilge water and oily waste from the vessel’s engine room through its sewage system into the sea while the ship was in U.S. waters.  The defendant falsified the vessel's Oil Record Book, made false statements to the Coast Guard during inspection, and destroyed the vessel's sounding log.  USAO NJ
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