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Environmental Crimes Task Force

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee is committed to ensure clean air, water and land for our citizens. We prosecute criminal cases under federal pollution and wildlife laws, and defend environmental and natural resources laws and federal agency programs and actions. With the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and several national forests and other preserves in our backyard, we feel a special connection and obligation to our environment. Our Environmental Crimes Task Force meets regularly with members from federal, state, and local agencies such as the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Tennessee Wildlife and Resources Agency to disseminate information, share intelligence, and coordinate a response to those individuals and entities who threaten our environment by violating federal laws. Some examples of the types of environmental crime cases brought by our office include:

  • Mark Sawyer, Eric Gruenberg, Newell Smith, Armida DiSanti and Milto DiSanti were convicted of conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act’s asbestos regulations in association with the demolition and salvaging of materials at the former Liberty Fibers plant in Hamblen County. The defendants were sentence to substantial prison sentences, ranging from six months for the DiSantis up to five years for Sawyer. The defendants were also ordered to pay in excess of $10 million in restitution to the EPA for clean-up costs associated with addressing the asbestos contamination of the site.

  • Don Fillers, David Wood, and James Mathis were convicted of conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act and knowingly violating provisions of the Clean Air Act’s asbestos requirements stemming from the demolition and salvaging operations at the former Standard Coosa Thatcher plant in Chattanooga. Fillers and Wood were also convicted of making false statements to the government, and Fillers was additionally convicted of obstructing justice. The trio were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 months for Mathis up to 48 months for Fillers. The defendants were also ordered to pay $27,899 in restitution for response costs incurred addressing the contamination at the site.

For more information about national environmental enforcement efforts visit

If you have any information regarding a suspected envrionmental crime, please visit the following link:

Updated March 13, 2017

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