FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2002
EX-PRESIDENT OF TESTING LAB SENTENCED FOR LYING TO FEDERAL AGENTS ABOUT HIS ROLE IN CHANGING LAB RESULTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the former president of a national testing laboratory was sentenced in federal court in Newark to 11 months in prison and a $20,000 fine for obstructing a federal proceeding by lying to federal investigators about his role in the alteration of lab results relating to fuel oil. Kaminski's sentencing was the first of nine sentences to be handed down over the next five days resulting from the government's prosecution of those involved in this long-running scheme to falsify laboratory reports.
Richard M. Kaminski, 55, of Salado, Texas, was the president of Caleb Brett, U.S.A., Inc., a testing laboratory with offices throughout North America, from 1992 through 1997. Before that, from 1979 through 1992, he was a senior manager in Caleb Brett's Linden, N.J., facility. Kaminski had admitted during his guilty plea last November that when he was interviewed in April 1998 by EPA and U.S. Postal Inspection Service criminal investigators, he falsely told them that he did not ask company employees to change numbers on analytical test results "to make Caleb Brett's clients happy" according to court documents.
In addition, Ronald Domnik, 51, of Doylestown, PA., and a former operations manager in Caleb Brett's Linden facility, was sentenced today to eight months in prison, followed by eight months of home confinement, and a $10,000 fine. Previously, Domnik pled guilty to a conspiracy to make false statements in September 1999, stating that he regularly caused laboratory technicians to alter RFG test results at the request of a Caleb Brett customer. Also, Nicholas Lehmann, 34, of Chelsea, Mass., was sentenced today to two years probation. Lehman was a Caleb Brett laboratory manager who pled guilty in September 1999 to failing to disclose to authorities his knowledge of the conspiracy.
"These sentences represent a significant step in what has been an extremely successful series of prosecutions and demonstrate that managers and supervisors will go to prison if they violate this country's environmental laws," said Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.
"Laboratory fraud endangers public health by undermining the very core of the regulatory system," said John Peter Suarez, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "When independent laboratories like Caleb Brett falsify test results, and their corporate officers obstruct criminal investigations, it can expose the public to the harmful effects of pollution."
Caleb Brett's data falsifications involved the distribution of approximately 200-300 million gallons of the substandard gasoline in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. RFG is an oxygenated fuel required under the Clean Air Act in certain states to meet emission standards and thereby reduce pollution which can cause respiratory illnesses. Because RFG contains fewer of the ingredients, such as benzene, that contribute to harmful forms of air pollution, RFG reduces the exposure of the public overall to ozone and certain air toxics.
According to his plea, from 1988 through 1997, Kaminski had encouraged employees at Caleb Brett's facilities in Linden, N.J., and Puerto Rico to alter #6 fuel oil test results to benefit Caleb Brett's clients. As a result, they reported results that were different from the results reflected by the analytical instruments used to test the fuel.
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 began in February 1997, when, under EPA's self-disclosure policy, Caleb Brett advised EPA that an ex-employee of the Linden facility had been falsifying test results under EPA's reformulated gasoline program. The government uncovered a broad scheme that included falsification of laboratory reports on various petroleum fuels over a 10-year period. The scheme was designed to make it appear that the fuels met commercial and regulatory requirements, including cleaner-burning standards of EPA, when, in fact, they did not.
Caleb Brett U.S.A. was sentenced in April 2001 and ordered to pay an aggregate $1 million fine and serve three years' probation for its part in a conspiracy to mislead investigators about a scheme to falsify chemical analyses involving hundreds of millions of gallons of reformulated gasoline (RFG) The sentence was a result of the company's guilty plea in September 2000 to a conspiracy to make false statements to EPA.
Three other former Caleb Brett managers will be sentenced Sept. 20, 2002. In September 2000, Jay Fulmer, 46, of Point Pleasant, N.J., pled guilty to obstruction of an EPA proceeding and Anthony Santiago, 46, of Howell, N.J., pled guilty to concealing from authorities his knowledge of the conspiracy. Jules Balogh, 58, of Somerville, N.J., pled guilty in September 1999, to conspiracy to make false statements to EPA. Balogh, like Domnik, was involved in the scheme to falsify RFG test results, while Fulmer and Santiago concealed the full scope of the RFG scheme from federal officials.
On Sept. 24, 2002, Blending, Marketing and Service, Inc. (BMS), and two BMS officials, Waldo Schroeder, 55, of Houston, Texas, and Mark Schroeder, 45, of The Woodlands, Texas, are to be sentenced for their guilty pleas to conspiracy last October. BMS was the primary fuel blender working with Caleb Brett to falsify numbers.
Another former Caleb Brett manager, Edward Bachar, 37, of Freehold, NJ, who pled guilty in September 2000, to conspiracy and obstruction of a federal proceeding, will be sentenced in the future.
The investigation was carried out by special agents of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and U.S. Postal inspectors in Newark. The government was also assisted in the prosecution by New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation and analytical and technical support was provided by EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. The case was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.