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Environmental Crimes Bulletin September 2023 Week 1

In this issue:

United States v. Armard Davis, et al., Nos. 5:21-CR-00003, 00040 (M.D. Ga.), ECS Senior Trial Attorney Banu Rangarajan, AUSA William Keyes, and ECS Law Clerks Amanda Backer and Nate Borelli

On September 1, 2023, a court sentenced Armard Davis to 190 months’ incarceration, followed by four years’ supervised release. Davis is the 13th and final defendant involved in a multi-state dog fighting and drug distribution conspiracy to plead guilty in this case (18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 49; U.S.C. §§ 2156(a)(1), (b); 21 U.S.C. §§ 841, 844, 846).

Between May 2019 and February 2020, the defendants organized dog fighting and distributed cocaine throughout North Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Investigators found that Davis regularly communicated with co-conspirators about planning, scheduling, and attending dog fights, in addition to several other details associated with dog fighting.

In February 2020, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Davis’s property, rescuing nine pit-bull type dogs. Many of the dogs displayed scarring and visible injuries such as broken legs and open wounds, all consistent with dog fighting. Agents also seized a hanging scale, medical supplies consistent with dog fighting and miscellaneous pedigrees. In January 2021, Drug Enforcement Administration agents learned that a drug transaction would be taking place between Davis and another person. After seeing Davis sell methamphetamine, agents arrested and searched him finding approximately 468 grams of methamphetamine and $3,890 in cash.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation, with assistance from the United States Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies.

United States v. David Guidry, III, No. 22-CR-00132 (E.D. La.), Former ECS Trial Attorney Matt Evans, AUSA Brittany Reed, and ECS Law Clerks Amanda Backer and Nate Borelli

On September 6, 2023, a court sentenced David Guidry, III, to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by three years’ supervised release. Guidry will also perform 30 hours of community service. Guidry pleaded guilty to one count of possessing animals in an animal fighting venture, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. § 2156(b)).

During the investigation, law enforcement surveilled other dogfighters via Title III wiretaps and discovered dogfights hosted at Guidry's property. Officers executed a search warrant on Guidry's property, finding seven pit bull-type terriers, several deconstructed dog fighting rings, and paraphernalia used to train fighting dogs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation.

United States v. Jared Piepkorn, No. 1:23-CR-01275 (D.N.M.), AUSA Letitia Simms

On September 6, 2023, a court sentenced Jared Piepkorn to pay a $2,000 fine to go into the Lacey Act Reward Fund, complete a two-year term of probation, and perform 50 hours of community service.

In January 2021, Piepkorn violated the Lacey Act by guiding an out-of-state hunter as an unregistered outfitter (16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(a)(2)(A), 3372(c)(1)(A), 3373(d)(2)). The hunter killed an oryx on the White Sands Missile Range without a permit.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conducted the investigation.

United States v. Seattle Barrel and Cooperage Company, et al., No. 2:19-CR-00258 (W.D. Wash.), AUSA Seth Wilkinson, and SAUSAs Karla Perrin and Gwendolyn Russell


On September 8, 2023, a court sentenced a company, its owner and a plant manager for chronic Clean Water Act violations. Seattle Barrel and Cooperage Company (Seattle Barrel) will complete a five-year term of probation. Owner Louie Sanft will serve 18 months’ incarceration, followed by a three-year term of probation. Sanft also will pay a $250,000 fine. Plant manager John Sanft will serve 30 days’ incarceration, followed by one year of supervised release to include four months’ home confinement.

In December 2021, a jury convicted Seattle Barrel and Louie Sanft on conspiracy, making false statements, and 33 Clean Water Act violations for illegally disposing of caustic pollutants into the King County sewer system for more than a decade (18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1001(a)(2); 33 U.S.C. §§ 1319(c)(4),(c)(2)(A), 1317.) Plant manager John Sanft pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making a false statement,

Seattle Barrel reconditions and resells used industrial and commercial drums. The reconditioning process includes submerging the barrels in a 300-gallon wash tank filled with a high pH caustic solution.

After observing John Sanft dumping oily material into the sewer in October 2012, King County officials conducted covert discharge monitoring between February and August 2013. Investigators determined that the company regularly discharged wastewater with pH levels greater than 12, in violation of its permit.

King County fined the company $55,250, but later agreed to reduce the fine when the company agreed to install a pretreatment system. The county also issued an amplified discharge permit in 2014 to include, among other things, submitting monthly self-monitoring reports.

Following the pretreatment system installation in 2016, Louie Sanft submitted monthly reports claiming the facility re-used all its wastewater on site (claiming to be a “zero discharge facility”). After a state inspector found problems during a plant inspection in November 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted additional covert

monitoring in 2018 and 2019 (including obtaining a search warrant for real-time monitoring).

The monitoring revealed ample evidence that Seattle Barrel continued to violate its permit by discharging high pH wastewater. The defendants used a portable pump to discharge solution from the wash tank to a hidden drain that led directly to the sewer system.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from the King County Industrial Waste Program and the Seattle Public Utilities, Drainage and Wastewater Source Control Division.

Environmental Crimes Bulletin


Updated December 6, 2023