FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2001
TDD (202) 514-1888
EX-HEAD OF TESTING LAB ADMITS LYING TO FEDERAL AGENTS
ABOUT HIS ROLE IN CHANGING FUEL OIL TEST RESULTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The former president of a national testing laboratory pleaded guilty today in federal court in Newark, New Jersey to obstruction of justice for lying to government investigators about his role in altering lab results relating to fuel oil, the Justice Department announced. According to today's plea, Richard M. Kaminski, the president of Caleb Brett, U.S.A., Inc, encouraged employees at the company's facilities in Linden, N.J. and Puerto Rico from 1988 through 1997 to alter #6 fuel oil test results to benefit Caleb Brett's clients by reporting results that were different than those reflected by the analytical instruments used to test the fuel.
Kaminski, company president from 1992 through 1997 and senior manager in the Linden facility from1979 to1992, pleaded guilty to one count of Obstructing a Federal Proceeding, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. During his guilty plea, Kaminski, 53, of Houston, Texas, admitted that when he was interviewed in April 1998 by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigators, he falsely told them that he did not promote changing numbers on analytical test results "to make Caleb Brett's clients happy."
According to Nick D. Swanstrom, Director of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the investigation has been ongoing since February 1997, when, under the EPA's Voluntary Disclosure Program, Caleb Brett advised the agency that an ex-employee of the Linden facility had been falsifying test results under the reformulated gasoline program. The government uncovered a much broader scheme that included falsification of laboratory reports on various petroleum products over a ten-year period, Swanstrom said. The scheme was designed to make it appear that the fuels met commercial and regulatory requirements, including cleaner-burning standards of the EPA, when, in fact, they did not.
Today's guilty plea represents the latest in the government's prosecution of those involved in the long-running scheme to falsify laboratory reports. In October 2001, Blending, Marketing and Service, Inc., a Caleb Brett client, along with two of its executives, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Caleb Brett employees to falsify lab results on hundreds of millions of gallons of reformulated gasoline (RFG). In September 2000, Caleb Brett entered a corporate guilty plea to conspiracy and three of its managers pleaded guilty to charges related to the conspiracy to falsify reports to the EPA. Three other supervisors from Caleb Brett's Linden facility pleaded guilty to related charges in September 1999.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA regulates levels of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere by limiting the amount of sulfur in fuel oils. According to papers filed in court today, a significant source of sulfur dioxide are power plants which burn residual oils, such as #6 fuel oil. Also, cleaner burning RFG is required by the EPA in some states to reduce air pollution that can cause a variety of respiratory diseases. Approximately 200-300 million gallons of substandard gasoline were distributed in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Independent testing laboratories, such as Caleb Brett, are employed by buyers and sellers of petroleum products to determine whether those products meet federal and state regulatory standards and commercial requirements.
The investigation was carried out by Special Agents of the EPA Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge William Lometti of Region II in New York; and U.S. Postal Inspectors in Newark, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Kevin J. Burke. The Government was also assisted in the prosecution by New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation. The United States is represented by Assistant Chief Andrew D. Goldsmith and Trial Attorney Stacey H. Mitchell of the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Defense Attorney: William L. Gardner, Esq. Washington, D.C.