United States Attorney To Leave Office
Corporation And Two Owners Charged With Scheme To Illegally Dispose Of Industrial Wastewater
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. announced today that a corporation and its two owners have been charged in connection with a wide ranging and ongoing federal and state investigation into corruption and fraud surrounding federal environmental laws.
RAM ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES, INC., an entity incorporated in the State of Louisiana and doing business in Morgan City, Louisiana; RAYMOND MARCEL, JR., age 60, of Berwick, Louisiana; and CYRIL D. ROBICHEAUX, age 53, of Morgan City, Louisiana, have each been charged in Bills of Information with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. MARCEL and ROBICHEAUX are the owners and operators of RAM, a wastewater brokerage firm.
If convicted, MARCEL and ROBICHEAUX would face up to five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a term of supervised release following imprisonment up to three years, and restitution to any victims. If convicted, RAM would face a fine up to $250,000, a term of probation up to five years, and an order of restitution to any victims.
Today’s charges allege that, in 2011 and 2012, the defendants conspired with themselves and others to illegally discharge industrial wastewater at locations in Belle River, Louisiana, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and to otherwise obstruct the enforcement of the federal environmental laws through kickbacks, the creation and use of false documents, and other fraudulent means.
With regard to the Baton Rouge conduct, the charges allege that, in September 2012, the defendants and others caused the illegal disposal of industrial wastewater at a site in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and concealed such activity through the creation and use of false documents. According to the charges, the defendants undertook such fraudulent activity with the owner of the Baton Rouge site and further schemed with the site owner to lie to investigators regarding the disposals.
With regard to the Belle River conduct, the charges allege that, during 2011 and 2012, the defendants paid over $22,000 in kickbacks to Michael J. Vaughn (“Vaughn”), the Operations Manager of FAS Environmental Services, a transportation and disposal company, in exchange for illegally using FAS’s injection well in Belle River to dispose of over 380,000 gallons of industrial wastewater. As part of the scheme, the defendants and their fellow conspirators allegedly created and used over 100 false documents, including manifests and work orders, in addition to submitting false reports to regulators in Baton Rouge. Such allegedly false and fraudulent documents were designed to conceal the scheme from federal and state government officials, as well as the defendant corporation’s unsuspecting clients.
Today’s charges were preceded by Vaughn’s conviction on May 29, 2013. Vaughn, the former FAS Operations Manager, pled guilty before U.S. District Judge James Brady to a previously sealed Bill of Information charging him with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, making false statements within the jurisdiction of the federal government, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, and forfeiture. Vaughn is pending sentencing.
FAS ownership was unaware of the scheme involving the FAS injection well, which resulted in the misuse of FAS resources. FAS has cooperated fully throughout the investigation.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by this office, the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Corey R. Amundson who serves as the Senior Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.