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Environmental Crimes Bulletin December 2021

In this issue:

United States v. Bruce Evans, Sr., et al., No. 3:19-CR-00009 (M.D. Pa.), AUSA Michelle Olsheksi and SAUSAs Martin Harrell and Patricia Miller

Sequential Batch Reactor

On December 17, 2021, a jury convicted Bruce Evans, Sr., and his son, Bruce Evans, Jr., on 29 of 36 counts involving Clean Water Act (CWA), wire fraud, and obstruction of correspondence offenses occurring at the Greenfield Township, Pennsylvania, wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) between 2013 and 2017 (33 U.S.C. §§ 1319(c)(2)(A), 1311, 1342; 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1702). The jury convicted Evans, Jr., on all five CWA counts for failure to operate and maintain in violation of the CWA permit, discharge in violation of a permit, and making a CWA false statement for lying on a WWTP job application (33 U.S.C. §§ 1319(c)(2) (A), 1319(c)(4), 1311, 1342).

In addition to serving on the Greenfield Township Sewer Authority Board and managing the plant for more than 20 years, Evans, Sr., spent more than 30 years as the Township Supervisor in this small rural town of 2,100 residents. He continued to hold the Township Supervisor position during trial, after refusing to resign following his indictment. He supervised his son at both the WWTP and the township, controlled all correspondence and payroll for each, and operated a small public drinking water system at a real estate development. Evans, Jr., worked as an “assistant” WWTP operator beginning in late 2017, a scheme orchestrated by his father in defiance of the four other board members. The obstruction of correspondence charges stemmed from his failure to deliver Notices of Violation to board members sent in late 2015 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP).

Evans, Sr., testified to some financial wrongdoings, but blamed them on oversights, and/or his desire to help his son. Regarding the environmental charges, he blamed the contract operators, stating that overseeing the plant’s environmental operations was “not my job.” Despite the Authority paying him $25,000 a year as a part-time plant manager, Evans, Sr., testified he never bothered to read the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit during his entire tenure as plant manager.

The CWA counts involved violations of the Authority’s CWA permit, including both numerical limits and several different narrative permit conditions, bypassing a pump station that resulted in the routing of raw sewage into a marshy area adjacent to a stream, and failing to notify PADEP about bypasses, sanitary sewer overflows, and hauled wastes.

Following years of noncompliance at the WWTP, federal environmental authorities initiated an investigation in 2013, using covert cameras positioned to surveil activity at the facility and a nearby pump station. Additional investigation revealed PADEP issued repeated warnings to Evans, Sr., (as the facility’s responsible corporate officer) regarding deficient facility inspections, permit non-compliance, community complaints about foul odors, and visible raw sewage routinely overflowing from a pump station.

With regard to jury instructions, the government obtained “Willful Blindness and Responsible Corporate Officer” instructions and refuted the defendants’ attempts to insert a good faith defense instruction and to require the government prove knowledge of the specific permit provisions charged in the indictment. The “knowing” instruction followed Third Circuit CWA case law in U.S. v. West Indies Transport, Inc., and the Ninth Circuit’s CWA decision in U.S. v. Lucero. The court gave a “hybrid” expert instruction taken from the Ninth Circuit’s model jury instructions because a fact witness also qualified as an expert in the field of wastewater treatment. On each CWA count, the court gave modified versions of the government’s proposed jury instructions which incorporated those from the ECS manual and model jury instructions from the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits. Adding charges involving narrative permit provisions required including relevant permit language, which at times, especially for bypassing, became quite lengthy and required adjustments in proof during trial. The government had to prove a discharge into a water of the United States for numerical permit counts and any others involving actual discharges.

The government filed a motion shortly before trial began to correct permit citation errors found in the superseding indictment. The defendants opposed, claiming the change in citations affected the substance of the charges. The court issued a written ruling in favor of the government, relying on Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 7(c)(2) concerning citation errors.

Additionally, the court issued a lengthy mid-trial ruling concerning a witness’ assertion of a Fifth Amendment claim. In September 2018, the government obtained a guilty plea from professional engineer David Klepadlo. Klepadlo designed the WWTP facility in the late 1980s and worked there as the chief contract operator until management fired him in 2018. Klepadlo tampered with witnesses and submitted false discharge monitoring reports.

After receiving a subpoena to testify at trial, Klepadlo claimed his testimony could expose him to new criminal liability. After a multi-hour hearing, the court compelled Klepadlo to testify concerning matters that occurred prior to his indictment in September 2016. The court ruled that Klepadlo had valid Fifth Amendment concerns for matters not charged in his indictment or addressed in his plea agreement that took place after his indictment. Moreover, the court rejected the defendants’ claim that the government’s refusal to provide immunity to Klepadlo violated their due process rights to Klepadlo’s testimony. Klepadlo ultimately testified, providing evidence supporting the government’s case.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection conducted the investigation.

United States v. Seattle Barrel and Cooperage Company, et al., No. 2:19-CR00258 (W.D. Wash.), AUSAs Seth Wilkinson and Jim Oesterle, SAUSAs Karla Perrin and Gwendolyn Russell

Tank containing caustic solution used for barrel wash

On December 22, 2021, following a three-week trial, a jury convicted Seattle Barrel and Cooperage Company (Seattle Barrel) and owner 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.) Sentencing is scheduled for April 25, 2022. Plant manager John Sanft pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making a false statement, and is scheduled for sentencing on April 22, 2022.

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 selfmonitoring 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.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division conducted the investigation.

United States v. Felipa Oliveros et al., No. 20-CR-03054 (S.D. Calif.), ECS Trial Attorney Stephen DaPonte and AUSA Melanie Pierson

On December 13, 2021, prosecutors charged Felipa Oliveros, her daughter Laura Orellana, Luis Rios Mancera, and Luis’ mother Sofia Mancera, with conspiracy and smuggling (18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 545).

Between January 2020 and June 2021, the four engaged in a scheme to smuggle approximately 300 bottles of illegal Mexican pesticides, including Tactic and Bovitraz, across the border into the United States.

Those involved in clandestine marijuana grows use illegal pesticides to cultivate unregulated marijuana on both public and private land in the United States.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.

United States v. Raivo Kynapp, No. 3:21-CR-00094 (N.D. Ind.), ECS Trial Attorney Mary Dee Carraway

On December 16, 2021, Raivo Kynapp pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act for failing to comply with the Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (42 U.S.C. § 7413(c)(1)). Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, 2022.

In 2016 and 2017, Kynapp supervised the demolition of the Wilson Shirt Factory in South Bend, Indiana. He knew there was regulated asbestos containing material (RACM) onsite. He directed workers to demolish the facility without following work practice standards for properly handling RACM, including failing to wet the material and ensuring it remained wet until properly disposed.

Demolition work ceased in February 2017 after the Indiana Department of Environmental Management performed an inspection and found the RACM on site.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division conducted the investigation.

United States v. Jackson Roe, No. 1:19-CR-00675 (E.D. AR.) AUSA Edward Walker

On December 16, 2021, Jackson Roe pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act for illegally importing reptiles from China (16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(a)(23)(A), 3373(d)(1)(A)). Sentencing is scheduled for July 8, 2022.

In August 2015, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) received an anonymous tip regarding a reptile hobbyist who sold and smuggled various animals into the United States. Through undercover conversations with this individual (located in China) agents learned that the individual in China was shipping rare and endangered animals to various buyers, including Roe. In January 2017, wildlife inspectors intercepted a package addressed to Roe containing two live Chinese giant salamanders, with no holes for air or documents in the package.

In August 2017, USFWS agents executed a search warrant at Roe’s parents’ residence, and conducted a consensual search of Roe’s home. Roe admitted he illegally purchased several live amphibians and reptiles from a Chinese dealer he met on Facebook. He stated he paid $450 for each salamander, despite knowing they were a protected species. Roe received a total of seven packages shipped from Hong Kong, which included six Chinese giant salamanders, a Vietnamese leaf turtle, an Indian roofed turtle, and a Chinese big-headed turtle. Roe also informed agents that he owned a Nile crocodile, a Morelet’s crocodile, and an American alligator, all of them seized by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission agents.

In October of 2019, investigators received new information that Roe illegally possessed Chinese giant salamanders. Agents executed a new search warrant at his residence in November 2019, discovering, among other animals, two live Chinese giant salamanders and four deceased Chinese giant salamanders.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the investigation.

United States v. Bob Gosman Co., Inc., et al., No. 2:21-CR-00217 (E.D.N.Y.), ECS Trial Attorney Christopher Hale, ECS Senior Trial Attorney Ken Nelson, and ECS Paralegal Samantha Goins

On December 16, 2021, a court sentenced The Bob Gosman Co., Inc., after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor Lacey Act trafficking charges. The company will pay a $50,000 fine and complete a four-year term of probation. The company also must implement an environmental compliance plan with enhanced monitoring, training, and inspection requirements. Co-defendants Bryan Gosman and Asa Gosman pleaded guilty to conspiracy and violating the Lacey Act for illegally purchasing summer flounder and black sea bass from a local fisherman (18 U.S.C. § 371; 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(a)(2)(A), 3373(d)(2)). A fourth defendant, Christopher Winkler, is charged with obstruction, and substantive fraud charges (18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1341, 1343, 1503, 1512(c)(1), 1519) [SEE Indictment Section for superseding indictment against Winkler.]

Between May 2014 and July 2016, Winkler, as captain of the New Age, went on approximately 70 fishing trips where he caught fluke or black sea bass in excess of applicable quotas. This fish was then sold to a now-defunct company/unindicted coconspirator in the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx. Both Asa Gosman and Bryan Gosman had an ownership interest in the defunct company. After the Bronx company failed, Winkler sold a smaller quantity of his illegal catch directly to Bob Gosman Co. Inc., a Montauk fish dealer in which Asa Gosman and Bryan Gosman had a management role. The overages of fish included at least 74,000 pounds of fluke, with the overall over-quota fish (of all species) valued at approximately $250,000 wholesale.

Federal law requires a fishing captain to accurately report his catch on a form known as a Fishing Vessel Trip Report (FVTR), which is mailed to NOAA. The first company that buys fish directly from a fishing vessel (the fish dealer) must complete and submit a dealer report to NOAA. NOAA utilizes this information to set policies designed to ensure a sustainable fishery. The defendants falsified documents to conceal the amount of fish taken in excess of quotas. Through their employees, they also obstructed the investigation by withholding documents sought by a federal grand jury.

Initiated as part of Operation One-Way Chandelier, this case is part of a multi-year, ongoing investigation by NOAA into fisheries fraud on Long Island.

United States v. Jamie Edmondson, No. 3:20-CR05033 (W.D. Mo.), AUSA Casey Clark

Felled tree

On December 15, 2021, a court sentenced Jamie Edmondson to 14 months’ incarceration, followed by 36 months’ supervised release. Edmondson also will pay $68,036 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service. Edmondson pleaded guilty to depredation of government property for damaging and removing more than two dozen trees from a national forest (18 U.S.C. § 1361).

Between June 2019 and January 2020, Edmondson illegally cut and removed 27 walnut and white oak trees in the Mark Twain National Forest. He sold the timber to various sawmills in the area.

Federal agents installed surveillance cameras in the forest near areas where someone had removed numerous trees. The cameras captured images of a truck Edmondson used to remove the trees.

Authorities valued the timber at approximately $20,269, and forest remediation costs at $44,414.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Barry County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation.

United States v. King Sheung Chan, No. 3:21-CR-00111 (D. Conn.), AUSA Hal Chen

On December 15, 2021, a court sentenced Hong Kong national King Sheung Chan to eight months’ time-served, after he attempted to smuggle glass eels from the United States to Hong Kong and China (18 U.S.C. § 554).

Chan worked for Asia Aquatic Company, Ltd., based in Hong Kong, and a Canadian company named Laknock Trading. Chan procured large quantities of illegally harvested glass eels from fishermen in the United States, as well as from Canada and the Dominican Republic. South Carolina and Maine are the only states that permit glass eel commercial harvesting, and Maine grants a limited number permits to fishermen. Buyers pay between $3,000 to $5,000 per kilogram of eels.

In 2017, Chan smuggled American glass eels through New York’s JFK Airport to Hong Kong at least seven times. On one occasion, he purchased elvers from undercover agents, posing as fishermen, who told Chan the glass eels were illegally harvested from the waters of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia. For these shipments, the defendant packed them with seaweed on top of plastic bags, and labelled the boxes “seaweed” to conceal the eels from inspectors.

In 2021, Chan arranged to purchase glass eels illegally harvested from Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts, and directed employees to store them at a seafood facility in Connecticut. He then drove with ten boxes containing the eels from Connecticut to a location near JFK Airport for final shipment to Hong Kong. Shortly thereafter, agents arrested Chan and seized the glass eels from the JFK airline cargo area. Authorities later released the glass eels into the wild. Authorities valued approximately 120 kilograms Chen smuggled over four years at $430,000.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the investigation.

United States v. Carlos L. Harvey, et al., Nos. 3:21-CR-00023 - 00026 (E.D. Va.), ECS Trial Attorney Shennie Patel, AUSA Olivia L. Norman, and ECS Paralegal John Jones

Dog seized from Harvey's residence

On December 9, 2021, a court sentenced Carlos L. Harvey to six months’ incarceration, followed by three years’ supervised release. Harvey also will perform 120 hours of community service and is prohibited from possessing or breeding dogs. Harvey is the final defendant to be sentenced for his role in a dog fighting conspiracy extending across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey.

Beginning in 2013 through July 2018, Chester A. Moody, Emmanuel A. Powe, Sr., Odell S. Anderson, Sr., and Harvey participated in animal fighting ventures, involving training, transporting, breeding, and dog fighting setups, including at least one specific "two -card" dog fighting event on April 3, 2016. Authorities executed multiple search warrants leading them to the discovery of the conspiracy.

The court already sentenced Emmanuel A. Powe, Sr., and Odell S. Anderson, Sr., to 18 months’ incarceration, followed by three years’ supervised release. In August 2021, Moody was ordered to serve one year and one day of imprisonment, followed by one year supervised release, and will perform 120 hours of community service. All pleaded guilty to conspiracy and participating in an animal fight venture (7 U.S.C. § 2156; 18 U.S.C. §§ 49 and 371). Anderson also pleaded guilty to taking a minor to a dog fight (7 U.S.C. § 2156(a)(2)(B)).

This case is part of Operation Grand Champion. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

United States v. U.S. Minerals, Inc., No. 2:21-CR-00025 (D. Mont.), AUSA Attorney Ryan G. Weldon and SAUSA Eric E. Nelson

Fugitive dust from waste material

On December 10, 2021, a court sentenced U.S. Minerals to pay a $393,200 fine and complete a five-year term of probation, to include implementing an environmental compliance plan. The criminal fine is in addition to civil penalties totaling $106,800 imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in a related civil proceeding for a total $500,000 penalty paid by U.S. Minerals.

The company pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act for exposing employees to elevated levels of arsenic (42 U.S.C. § 7413(c)(4)). This is in addition to the OSHA civil matter.

U.S. Minerals manufactures silicate abrasives in facilities throughout the United States. The company sells the product to industrial and governmental customers. The plant was located on a copper slag pile, which falls within the larger Anaconda Superfund site. Authorities permitted the company to build and operate the site as a way to use the slag pile. Between July 2015 and February 2019, U.S. Minerals exposed employees to inorganic arsenic, a hazardous air pollutant, by negligently releasing it into the air. Exposure occurred as employees transported the raw material from the slag pile and during the processing phase.

In July 2015, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) inspected the site, collecting air samples from throughout the outdoor facility and conducting employee monitoring. Test results confirmed the company exposed employees to high levels of lead and arsenic in the ambient air, exceeding both NIOSH and OSHA exposure limits.

In late 2015, OSHA inspected the facility and issued 19 serious violations with penalties totaling $106,800. Inorganic arsenic levels ranged between 1.25 and 4.75 times greater than the OSHA permissible exposure limits. In April 2018, hospital officials notified the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services that they treated a U.S. Minerals employee for arsenic poisoning. Over the next few days, three additional employees presented with high levels of arsenic in their urine. State officials conducted a site visit in June 2018, noting “apparent inhalation hazards” and shared their findings with the company. A second inspection in October 2018 confirmed that the company continued to expose its employees.

In February 2019, the state issued a Cease and Desist order, but then lifted the order a month later to allow the company to resume operations under limited conditions. One of those conditions required U.S. Minerals to provide the state with quarterly medical monitoring reports related to employee arsenic and lead testing. Documents provided to the state from the company showed employees continued to test with high arsenic and lead levels in their systems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services conducted the investigation.

United States v. Richard W. Stubblefield, Jr., et al., No. 1:19-CR-00437 (N.D. Ill.), AUSA Tim Chapman

On December 9, 2021, and December 3, 2021, a court sentenced two former employees of a tanker washing business for conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act, for dumping improperly treated wastewater into an Illinois city's sewage system (18 U.S.C. § 371). Roland E. Tondini will pay a $10,000 fine and complete a two-year term of probation. Richard W. Stubblefield will pay a $1,000 fine and complete a one-year term of probation.

A&R Logistics cleaned tanker trucks used to transport a variety of bulk products. Workers used a highly caustic substance to clean the trucks, scraping residues from previous loads before filling the trucks with new products. The company’s permit allowed it to discharge wastewater into the city's sewage system with pH levels between 6.0 and 10.0. The city also required the company to regularly submit reports verifying the compliance with those standards.

A&R lacked the equipment to sufficiently treat its wastewater. As a result, Stubblefield and Tondini tampered with monitoring devices and falsified sample data to conceal the actual pollutant levels the facility discharged for close to ten years.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division conducted the investigation.

United States v. Edgardo Marin Candelario et al., No. 3:20-CR-00424 (D.P.R.), AUSA Carmen M. Marquez Marín

Red Tailed Hawk

On December 7, 2021, and December 3, 2021, a court sentenced two individuals for illegally capturing and selling migratory birds. Edgardo Marin Candelario and Carlos David Flores Rios will each pay $2,000 fines. Candalerio will complete a one-year term of probation and perform 100 hours of community service. Flores will complete a four-year term of probation.

In March 2019, the defendants captured and illegally sold migratory birds, offering them for sale on private internet chat groups, as well as to local buyers as pets. They sold the birds in Puerto Rico and off the island. Candelario pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act for selling short-eared owls (16 U.S.C §§ 3372(a)(1), 3373(d)(1)(B)). Rios pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for selling shorteared owls (16 U.S.C. §§ 703, 707(b)(1), (b)(2)).

On February 14, 2022, the final defendants, Miseal Cruz Rivera pleaded guilty to violating the MBTA for selling an American Kestrel (16 U.S.C. §§ 703(a), 707(b)(2)).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the investigation.

United States v. Summit Midstream Partners, LLC, No. 1:21-CR-00152 (D. N. D.), ECS Senior Litigation Counsel Richard Udell, ECS Senior Trial Attorney Christopher Costantini, ECS Trial Attorneys Stephen Foster and Erica Pencak, AUSA Gary Delorme, and ECS Law Clerk Nate Borelli

On December 6, 2021, a court sentenced Summit Midstream Partners LLC to pay a $15 million criminal fine and complete a three-year term of probation. The criminal fine is in addition to a $20 million civil penalty imposed on Summit and a related company, Meadowlark Midstream Company LLC, to resolve civil violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and North Dakota water pollution control laws.

Summit pleaded guilty to violating the CWA and the Oil Pollution Act for negligently discharging oil and failing to report the discharge (33 U.S.C. §§ 1319(c)(1)(A), 1321(b)(3), (b)(5)). The North Dakota pipeline company illegally discharged 29 million gallons of produced water from its pipeline near Williston, North Dakota, between August 2014 and January 2015. The discharge contaminated land, groundwater, and more than 30 miles of tributaries of the Missouri River.

Summit’s negligence included the design, construction, and operation of the pipeline, as well as failing to locate and stop the spill after learning about the leak. Summit failed to share all relevant information with federal and state authorities regarding the volume and duration of the spill.

The civil penalties include performing comprehensive injunctive relief, clean-up costs, and paying $1.25 million in natural resource damages.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division conducted the criminal investigation. The U.S. EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, the North Dakota Industrial Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the North Dakota Department of Game and Fish, provided assistance to both the criminal and civil investigations.

United States v. Kristofer Landell et al., Nos. 1:21-CR-00067, 72, 122, 136, 154 (N.D.N.Y.), ECS Senior Trial Attorney Todd Gleason, ECS Trial Attorney Gary Donner, and ECS Paralegal Samantha Goins

On December 1, 2021, a court sentenced Kristofer Landell and Stephanie Laskin for their roles in a large illegal asbestos abatement project. Landell will serve eight months’ incarceration and Laskin will serve ten months. Both are subject to three years’ supervised release, and will be held jointly and severally responsible for approximately $400,000 in restitution. They are barred from any involvement in the asbestos industry.

Between May and August 2016, Gunay Yakup, Roger Osterhoudt, Madeline Alonge, Landell, and Laskin participated in demolishing numerous buildings located on a 258-acre industrial property. The buildings contained substantial amounts of regulated asbestoscontaining material (RACM).

During the project, Laskin, Yakup, Landell and Alonge (all of whom possessed specialized asbestos abatement supervisor training) violated multiple National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, Occupational Safety and Heath, and local environmental standards including: failing to operate functioning decontamination units; conducting asbestos removal operations without access to sufficient water; failing to provide handlers with adequate personal protective equipment; failing to wet RACM; dropping RACM from substantial heights causing visible emissions when the material hit the floor; and spraying water into bagged and dry RACM to mislead inspectors.

Landell used his air and project monitoring company to create "final air clearances," despite the ongoing violations. He also took the lead in concealing the illegal asbestos abatement activities by fabricating paperwork, altering existing paperwork, and running interference when inspectors arrived onsite.

Osterhoudt (the vice president of the entity that owned the site), repeatedly pressed the abatement workers to work faster despite knowing that they were already receiving notices of violation from the New York State Department of Labor.

Landell and Alonge pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act (CAA) and to defraud the government (18 U.S.C. § 371). Laskin pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the CAA (18 U.S.C. § 371). Yakup and Osterhoudt pleaded guilty to conspiracy and CAA misdemeanor charges, respectively (18 U.S.C. § 371, 42 U.S.C. § 7413(c)(4)).

Alonge will complete a three-year term of probation. She was further ordered to surrender all asbestos licenses and dissociate herself from the industry. Yakup and Osterhoudt will complete three years’ of probation. Osterhoudt also must perform 80 hours of community service.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division and the New York Departments of Labor and Environmental Conservation conducted the investigation.

Environmental Crimes Bulletin

Updated December 6, 2023