FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday - December 7, 2001
LELAND (N. C.) COMPANY OFFICIALS INDICTED FOR POLLUTING CAPE FEAR RIVER WITH WASTE OIL
GREENVILLE - United States Attorney John Stuart Bruce announced that a federal grand jury sitting here on Thursday, December 6, 2001, returned a True Bill of Indictment that charged HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC., of 1690 Royster Road, NE, Leland, N. C.; ANDREW JACKSON SIMMONS, JR., 58, of 2613 Middle Sound Road, Wilmington, N. C.; and ANTHONY PAUL NORRIS, 57, of Leland, N. C., with illegally discharging waste oil into the Cape Fear River. The Indictment also charged SIMMONS and TERRY RAY HILL, 45, of 634 Old Swann Point Road, Rocky Point, N. C., with violations of federal tax laws.
According to the 12-count Indictment, HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC. was in the business of refining used oils and blending them to create a usable product. In addition, the company was in the business of cleaning storage tanks. The Indictment alleges that in November of 1997, ANDREW JACKSON SIMMONS, JR. and ANTHONY PAUL NORRIS conspired to discharge oil into the Cape Fear River, in violation of the Clean Water Act. At the time of the discharge, SIMMONS, the President and 100% shareholder of the company, and NORRIS,the foreman of the tank farm at the Leland facility, "being persons in charge of an onshore facility," failed to immediately notify the appropriate federal agency as soon as they had knowledge of the discharge.
The Indictment also alleges that HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC., SIMMONS, and NORRIS knowingly violated the used oil regulations by storing used oil in leaking or unlabelled containers.
The Indictment further alleges that SIMMONS and NORRIS knowingly obstructed justice and made false statements to the U. S. Coast Guard.
The Indictment also charges SIMMONS and TERRY RAY HILL with conspiring to impede the Internal Revenue Service in its lawful function of collecting taxes. According to the Indictment, employees of HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC. were paid overtime wages and salaries, which were not reported to the IRS, and corporate income was diverted to the personal use of company owner, ANDREW J. SIMMONS, JR.
If convicted as charged: HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC. could receive a maximum fine of $1,700,000.00; SIMMONS could receive a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment, a fine of $2,250,000.00, and a supervised release term of five years; NORRIS could receive a maximum sentence of 35 years imprisonment, a fine of $2,000,000.00, and a supervised release term of five years; and HILL could face a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000.00, and a supervised release term of three years.
U. S. Attorney Bruce said, "This Indictment is the culmination of a four-year investigation, which began after the intentional discharge of pollutants into the Cape Fear River in knowing violation of the environmental laws. The discharge resulted in an extensive oil sheen on the river and necessitated a significant response by the United States Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office of Wilmington, N. C. The ensuing criminal investigation revealed obstructive conduct, which affected the Coast Guard's initial response to the discharge and hampered their clean-up efforts."
He added, "Our office is committed to vigorous enforcement of federal environmental laws in the Eastern District of North Carolina."
Investigation of the case was conducted by the U. S. Coast Guard, Marine Safety Office, Wilmington, N. C.; the
U. S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; the N. C. State Bureau of Investigation; the Criminal Investigation
Division of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Trial dates for these defendants have not been set.
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