FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2003
ENRD (202) 514-2007|
EPA (202) 564-4930
FORMER COMPANY VICE PRESIDENT CONVICTED OF CONSPIRING TO FALSIFY DATA ON MILLIONS OF GALLONS OF REFORMULATED GASOLINE
NEWARK – Late this afternoon, a former vice president of a multinational petroleum products testing company was convicted a charge of conspiring to violate the federal Clean Air Act and a variety of fraud statutes, as well as for obstructing justice, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie and Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division announced.
Thomas M. Hayes, 51, of Rockaway Township, N.J., formerly vice president of Western Hemisphere operations at Saybolt Inc., was convicted of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act, to make false statements to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, to commit mail fraud and obstruction of justice. Hayes was acquitted of a second charge in the indictment for obstructing justice.
"Conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act and to obstruct justice is a deplorable crime," said Assistant Attorney General Tom Sansonetti. "Today's guilty verdict sends a strong message that crimes against the environment will not be tolerated."
Nick D. Swanstrom, Director of EPA's Criminal Investigation Divison, stated that, "As a result of the defendant's falsification of RFG certifications, Clean Air Act standards were compromised in that millions of gallons of fuel certified to be in compliance with Clean Air Act standards, which are enforced by the EPA, did not, in fact, meet these requirements."
In July 2001, three former employees of Saybolt pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act. Each of them signed cooperating plea agreements and assisted in the government's investigation. According to the government's charges against those employees, the fraud was designed to keep Saybolt customers by allowing them to sell substandard RFG and other products.
In January 1999, Saybolt, Inc. entered a corporate guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Boston to conspiracy and wire fraud. Saybolt's parent company, Saybolt North America Inc., pleaded guilty to related charges as well.
Hayes was convicted of carrying out the conspiracy as early as September 1992 to approximately November 1996 at Saybolt's facilities in New Jersey and Woburn, Mass. The conspiracy centered on, but did not exclusively involve, the testing of the oxygen content of RFG. RFG is blended to meet environmental specifications for various chemical and physical properties, including oxygen content.
Hayes and his co-conspirators routinely inflated the oxygen content of its customers' RFG in reports that were submitted to the EPA, according to the indictment. Saybolt allegedly falsified its data, reporting results that were not actually obtained in the lab to generate higher oxygen figures. In some instances the falsified reports enabled refiners and importers to sell RFG that did not meet minimum government requirements. In other instances, sellers received undeserved "credits" for selling RFG that purportedly exceeded minimum environmental specifications.
Hayes now faces a maximum statutory prison term of five years and $250,000 on the conspiracy count.