News and Press Releases

Venango County Man Charged with Falsifying Documents on Well Plugging

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2014

ERIE, Pa. - A resident of Pleasantville, Pennsylvania has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie on charges of making false statements in matters relevant to permits issued under the Safe Drinking Water Act, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

The three-count indictment named Ronald A. Wright, 44, as the sole defendant.

According to the indictment presented to the court, between in and around September 2009, to in and around April 2011, Wright falsified Certificates of Well Plugging, falsely claiming that he had properly plugged abandoned oil wells, when he had not properly done so. These forms were relied upon by the EPA in regard to permits issued for Class II injection wells. The approval process for these injection wells required all abandoned wells within a quarter mile of the injection well site to have first been properly plugged.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine of $750,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Marshall J. Piccinini is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

“When individuals knowingly submit false reports or data to the government as alleged in this case, our ability to protect public health and the environment is undermined,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program for the Mid Atlantic States. “Anyone thinking about submitting false information should seriously consider today’s indictment. EPA and its partner agencies will not hesitate to seek prosecution of those who violate our nation’s environmental laws.”

The Environmental Protection Agency - Criminal Investigation Division, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Environmental Crimes Section, and the U.S. Forest Service – Law Enforcement and Investigations, conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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