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Springfield Engineer Pleads Guilty to Fraud Conspiracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2014

Springfield, Ill. – A sentencing date has been set in July for a Springfield, Ill., engineer, Jeremy L. VanScyoc, who has pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to defraud the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. VanScyoc, 37, of the 400 block of Elle Court, waived indictment and pled guilty on Mar. 10, 2014, to an information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  VanScyoc appeared before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough.  Sentencing is scheduled on Jul. 21, 2014.

During court hearings and in court documents, VanScyoc admitted that after he joined Environmental Management, Inc. (EMI), in October 2001, he agreed to engage in a scheme to defraud IEPA.  VanScyoc admitted his participation in the submission of false claims for reimbursement to IEPA through the Leaking Underground Storage Tank fund, known as the LUST fund, which is administered by IEPA. These false claims were submitted from October 2001 through Nov. 27, 2012, for services not rendered or not rendered to the extent claimed and false claims represented as ‘actual costs’ which in fact, were inflated in excess of the true cost of the product or services.

EMI, Inc. is an environmental consulting firm located at 1154 North Bradfordton Road, in Springfield. VanScyoc joined EMI in late October 2001 and obtained a small ownership interest in 2007. One of EMI’s primary business activities was the remediation of property contaminated by petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks.

In a separate but related case, in October 2013, a federal grand jury indicted three individuals who have served or currently serve as EMI officers:  Eric M. Andrews; Joel C. Andrews; and Michael R. Keebler.  According to the indictment, from at least 1997 until
September 2006, Joel Andrews was the president of EMI; in or about September 1999, Eric Andrews became an officer with EMI; and on or about Apr. 1, 2001, Keebler joined the firm and became an officer in 2003.  On or about Sept. 30, 2006, Joel Andrews sold the business and Keebler became the majority owner and EMI president. The indictment charges the three men with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and 10 counts of mail fraud.

A status conference is scheduled on Apr. 28, 2014, for the three defendants.  The indictment of Eric and Joel Andrews and Keebler seeks a personal money judgment against the three defendants, jointly and severally, of at least $13.6 million, which would represent the amount of the net proceeds obtained as a result of the alleged offenses. 

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The U.S. EPA has a cooperative agreement with the state of Illinois in which IEPA and the Illinois State Fire Marshal regulate the use, maintenance and removal of petroleum underground storage tanks.  The State Fire Marshal administers the preventative and permitting aspects of the program which regulates daily operation and maintenance of underground storage tank systems, including oversight for tank installation and removals. If there is a spill or leak from an underground storage tank, however, IEPA is responsible to oversee the cleanup investigation and to supervise the corrective action.  IEPA also administers the state’s LUST fund. The State of Illinois imposes taxes and fees on gasoline sales which are added to the LUST fund to assist owners of contaminated sites to clean up the property.

During VanScyoc’s plea hearing and in court documents, VanScyoc admitted that on multiple occasions between Oct. 29, 2001, and Nov. 27, 2012, he agreed with others to submit fraudulent invoices to the IEPA LUST fund.  These invoices were represented to be the ‘actual cost’ of work performed, when, in fact, the claims were in excess of the actual costs incurred by EMI or were otherwise inflated. VanScyoc further admitted that he created or modified invoices to make it appear as if invoices were submitted by subcontractors.  These invoices exaggerated the work performed, the actual cost of the work, or both. 

For the offense of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, the maximum statutory penalty is five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine or twice the amount of pecuniary gain or loss to the victim.  For each count of mail fraud, the statutory penalty is up to 20 years in prison.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Service, Criminal Investigation Division, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick D. Hansen.

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