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October 10, 2020

The owners of Keystone Biofuels Inc., Ben Wootton and Race Miner, were sentenced to approximately 5.5 years imprisonment each and they and Keystone were ordered to pay restitution and fines totaling $9.23 million to the IRS and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection following their convictions at trial for charges relating to their renewable fuels scam.  The defendants falsely claimed that they were able to produce biodiesel that permitted them to create renewable fuel credits known as RINs; then then sold both the non-qualifying fuel and the fraudulently-created RINs.  In addition, Keystone claimed federal tax refunds under the IRS Biofuel Mixture Credit program, creating false books and records to conceal the non-qualifying, and in some cases non-existent, fuel.  DOJ

September 14, 2020

German automaker Daimler AG and its U.S. subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC will pay $1.06 billion and undertake a recall valued at $436 million to resolve claims that they violated the Clean Air Act and California law in allegedly manufacturing and selling diesel automobiles between 2009 and 2016 that had undisclosed auxiliary emission control devices and defeat devices.  These devices caused the vehicles to appear to pass emissions requirements during testing despite the fact that during ordinary usage the vehicles produced NOx emissions above compliant levels.  The recall and repair program requires defendants to bring the vehicles into compliance with applicable emissions standards by removing all defeat devices from the affected vehicles, replacing hardware, and updating software.  The total monetary settlement consists of $875 million in civil penalties, $70.3 million in other penalties, and $110 million to fund mitigation projects in California.  Defendants also agreed to implement corporate compliance reforms.  DOJ; CA

August 6, 2020

Following his conviction at trial on charges to defraud the EPA and IRS, David Dunham, who had ownership interests in Smarter Fuel LLC and Greenworks Holdings LLC, was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $10.21 million.  Dunham fraudulently applied for, received, and sold over $50 million in EPA, IRA, and USDA credits and payments for producing biofuels that he, in fact, did not produce and, in many instances, had never possessed in the first place.  DOJ

July 17, 2020

Monsanto will pay $52 million to the District of Columbia to resolve claims that the company sold PCBs for nearly 50 years, damaging the District’s natural resources and putting the health of residents at risk, despite knowing that the chemicals would pollute waterways, kill wildlife, and cause significant health problems in humans.  A majority of the settlement funds will be dedicated to environmental clean-up of District waterways, including the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.  DC

June 24, 2020

Monsanto will pay $95 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by the State of Washington alleging that the company produced PCBs for decades while hiding what they knew about the toxic chemicals’ harm to human health and the environment. PCBs have been found in bays, rivers, streams, sediment, soil and air throughout Washington, with more than 600 suspected or confirmed contamination sites.  WA

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 13, 2020

Mining company Atlantic Richfield agreed to undertake or finance $150 million in cleanup of mining-related contamination as part of the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit consent decree, subject to court approval.  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
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