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Environmental Fraud

This archive displays posts tagged as relevant to fraud in environmental programs and policies. You may also be interested in the following pages:

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December 9, 2021

Monsanto Company has agreed to plead guilty to charges that it used a glufosinate ammonium-based pesticide, sold as Forfeit 280, on corn fields in Hawaii, and then allowed workers to enter the fields during a six-day restricted-entry interval after the product was applied.  Monsanto will pay $12 million and undertake specified environmental compliance programs.  The government further alleged that Monsanto’s actions violated a 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement regarding Monsanto’s unlawful spraying of a banned pesticide, methyl parathion, the active ingredient in Penncap-M, on research crops at one of its facilities on Maui. USAO CD Cal

October 13, 2021

West Shore Pipe Line Co. and Buckeye Pipe Line Co., the owner and operator, respectively, of a crude oil pipeline located near Lockport, Illinois, will pay a $1.2 million civil penalty and $7.2 million in damages to resolve federal claims arising from a 2010 breach in the pipeline that discharged 1,800 barrels of oil into a protected wetland.  DOJ

Shining a Light on Fraud in the Energy Industry

Posted  10/1/21
This week brought not one but two newly announced False Claims Act (FCA) settlements with companies in the energy sector: (1) Oklahoma-based energy company Devon Energy Coporation settled claims it underpaid royalties for natural resources, and (2) National Grid, a utility company in New York settled claims it falsified reports to a local power authority to cover up mismanagement and wasted State electricity. The two...

September 23, 2021

Shipping company Diana Wilhelmsen Management Limited was ordered to pay $2 million following its admissions that it violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.  DWM admitted that its vessel, M/V Protefs, unlawfully discharged oily bilge water and knowingly kept a false oil record book.  DOJ; USAO ED LA

August 6, 2021

Chandra Yarlagadda, who owned and operated biodiesel supplier Alpha Bioenergy LLC, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $3.3 million following his guilty plea to income tax evasion charges.  Yarlagadda, who reported income and expenses associated with Alpha Bioenergy on Schedules C attached to his personal income tax returns, admitted that over the course of three years he reported that the company incurred expenses totaling more than $14.2 million for the purchase and retirement of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) used by the EPA, when, in fact, he had incurred only $80,000 in RIN expenses during those years.  Without the inflated deduction claims, Yarlagadda would have owed an additional $2.3 million in federal income taxes.  DOJ

August 6, 2021

Alaska commercial fisherman James Aaron Stevens was ordered to pay a $1 million fine and sentenced to six months in prison following his guilty plea on charges under the Lacy Act related to the false reporting of halibut and sablefish catch by his vessels the F/V Alaskan Star and F/V Southern Seas.  Over four seasons, Stevens falsified documents including individual fishing quota (IFQ) reports, state fish tickets, and fishing logbooks, to falsely claim that he harvested fish in locations and regulatory areas where he did not fish and omit areas where he actually fished. USAO AK

August 5, 2021

Pipeline company Summit Midstream Partners LLC, Meadowlark Midstream Company LLC, and Summit Operating Services Company LLC, have agreed to pay $35 million in fines and penalties to settle criminal and civil cases arising from the discharge of 29 million gallons of “produced water” – a waste product of hydraulic fracturing – from Summit’s pipeline near Williston, North Dakota, over the course of nearly five months in 2014-2015.  As part of the settlement, Summit admitted that it operated the pipeline without a reliable leak detection system and made incomplete and misleading reports to federal and state authorities about the spill.  DOJ; EPA; December, 2021 DOJ Release

August 3, 2021

Trucking operator Complete Logistics Company, LLC (CLC) has agreed to a $2.38 million settlement to resolve allegations of falsely certifying compliance with California’s emissions regulations in order to obtain $2.2 million in state grants under the state’s Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program, which incentivizes trucking companies to reduce emissions by offering grants for newer, cleaner trucks.  The alleged misconduct occurred during a health-related absence by CLC’s owner; upon the owner’s return in 2017, immediate remedial measures were taken.  CA AG

June 17, 2021

Subject to court approval, CITGO Petroleum will pay $19.7 million to resolve federal and state claims for damages arising from the company’s 2006 discharge of untreated wastewater from its Lake Charles refinery into the Calcasieu River.  An earlier court proceeding had found that the spill was the result of CITGO’s gross negligence in the operation and maintenance of its wastewater treatment facility and the lack of adequate storage and treatment capacity, and that CITGO had failed inform the Coast Guard of the true nature of the incident.  DOJ

April 21, 2021

Rockwater Northeast LLC and its parent company Select Energy Services, Inc. will collectively pay a $4.3 million in criminal fines and penalties for violations of the Clean Air Act through tampering with the emissions systems on heavy-duty diesel trucks owned by the companies and installing “defeat devices” that disabled emissions diagnostic systems on the trucks.  The company’s parent company entered into a non-prosecution agreement that included the implementation of a compliance program and cooperation with ongoing investigations.  Six individuals, including former employees of Rockwater, have been prosecuted in connection with the investigation.  USAO MDPA
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