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Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section

Section Overview

AUSAs in the Environmental and Community Crimes Section handle a wide variety of environmental crime cases, including pollution by ocean going cruise vessels, underground fuel storage tank leaks, smuggling and distribution of ozone-depleting substances (CFCs and/or refrigerants) in violation of the federal Clean Air Act, unlawful transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes, destruction and removal of Native American artifacts and native plants on federal lands, and the smuggling of endangered species.  AUSAs in the section participate in community outreach efforts to encourage the reporting of environmental violations.  Members of the section also regularly provide training to agents and staff a variety of working groups and task forces.


Joseph Johns

Joseph Johns is the Chief of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.  AUSA Johns received a Bachelor of Science in International Politics and Science & Technology from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1986.  He earned his Juris Doctor from Arizona State University’s College of Law in 1989.  AUSA Johns began his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney within the Environmental Crimes Section of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office in 1990.  He later worked as an AUSA  with a focus on federal environmental crimes prosecutions for the United States Attorney’s Office  (“USAO”) for the Eastern District of California from 1995-1997.  AUSA Johns served as the first Director of the Joint Center for Strategic Environmental Enforcement “fusion center” in Lakewood, Colorado, operated by the United States Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency from 1997-1998.  Thereafter, he joined this Office. 

During his time at this Office, AUSA Johns has served as Chief of the Public Integrity and Environmental Crimes Section, and now as Chief of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.  During his legal career, AUSA Johns has investigated and prosecuted every category of state and federal environmental crime, in addition to hundreds of other public safety crimes, including several high profile forest fire cases, food, drug, and medical device safety cases, and archeological resource looting and smuggling cases.  He has created, managed, and supported various regional and county environmental crimes task forces throughout the country.  AUSA Johns has been a frequent lecturer on subjects and issues related to corporate liability, environmental crimes, and corporate and government compliance.

Recent Cases

April 24, 2017
Press Release
Fontana Company, Owner and 3 Employees Charged with Violating Clean Water Act by Illegally Discharging Industrial Waste into Sewers

April 24, 2017
Press Release
Orange County Pilot Who Operated Private Jets with Passengers Onboard without Proper License Sentenced to Federal Prison

December 13, 2016
Press Release
O.C. Man Charged with Selling Pet Meds Without a Prescription, Some of Which Were Not Approved for Distribution in the United States

November 18, 2016
Press Release
Undercover Operation by Coast Guard Investigators Leads to Dismantling of 5 ‘Document Mills’ that Produced Bogus ID Documents

November 7, 2016
Press Release
Pool Cue Maker Sentenced for Helping to Smuggle Elephant Ivory

Exide Technologies Non-Prosecution Agreement and Bi-Annual Reports

For a copy of Exide’s Biannual Report please send an email request for the desired report date to the following:

July 15, 2015 Report
January 15, 2016 Report
July 15, 2016 Report
January 13, 2017 Report

Section Contact Information

The United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California
Criminal Division
Attn: Environmental Crimes Section
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

Updated April 25, 2017