FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday - September 15, 2003
LELAND (N. C.) COMPANY SENTENCED FOR POLLUTING CAPE FEAR RIVER WITH WASTE OIL
WILMINGTON - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced that HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC., of Leland, N. C., was sentenced in federal court in Wilmington on Monday, September 15, 2003, by Senior U. S. District Judge James C. Fox. The company pled guilty to federal environmental and income tax violations on December 9, 2002, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States Attorney's Office.
HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC., received a sentence of five years probation and was ordered to pay a fine of $700,000.00. Also, the company will forfeit $400,000.00 to the government and pay a special assessment in the amount of $1,600.00. Judge Fox further ordered the company to file amended income tax returns for the years 1993 through 1999.
A federal grand jury sitting in Greenville on December 6, 2001, indicted HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC., ANDREW JACKSON SIMMONS, JR., and TONY PAUL NORRIS for illegally discharging waste oil into the Cape Fear River and also indicted SIMMONS and TERRY RAY HILL for violations of federal tax laws.
Pursuant to written plea agreements with the United States Attorney's Office, all four defendants entered guilty pleas as follows:
HIGH RISE SERVICES COMPANY, INC., pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act; the unlawful discharge of oil onto the shoreline and into the navigable waters of the United States; and improper storage of used oil. Also, the company pled guilty to a Criminal Information that charged it with conspiracy to impede and obstruct the Internal Revenue Service in the collection of taxes. SIMMONS pled guilty to the negligent discharge of pollutants and failure to report a spill. Additionally, he pled guilty to a Criminal Information that charged him with two counts of attempting to evade or defeat federal income taxes. He was sentenced on June 2, 2003, to 24 months imprisonment, a fine of $50,000.00, and a supervised release term of three years.
TONY PAUL NORRIS, of Leland, N. C., pled guilty to the negligent discharge of pollutants and making false statements and a writing to the United States Coast Guard. He was sentenced on March 31, 2003, to five years probation and a fine of $4,000.00.
TERRY RAY HILL, of Rocky Point, N. C., pled guilty to a Criminal Information that charged her with two counts of attempting to evade or defeat federal income taxes. She was sentenced on September 3, 2003, to 15 months imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a special assessment of $200.00.
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 alleged that in November of 1997, ANDREW JACKSON SIMMONS, JR. andTONY 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 alleged 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 alleged that SIMMONS and NORRIS knowingly obstructed justice and made false statements to the U. S. Coast Guard.
The Indictment also charged 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.
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 Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, with assistance by the N. C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Assistant U. S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan handled the case for the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney's web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.