Maryland Man Charged With Clean Air Act Violations
SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Brian Mellott, age 45, of Cumberland, Maryland, was indicted by a federal grand jury with conspiring to impede the lawful functions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT), and to violate the Clean Air Act. Mellott also was charged with three counts of violating the Clean Air Act. The indictment was returned on August 14, 2018, but remained under seal until Mellott was apprehended.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that Mellott was an analyst at Rockwater Northeast LLC, a company that serviced the fracking industry in Pennsylvania. In the course of his employment, it is alleged that Mellott conspired to modify the emissions systems on approximately 30 Rockwater heavy-duty diesel trucks by using “defeat devices.” It is further alleged that the defeat device purchases were concealed in Rockwater’s books and records by mislabeling them as exhaust systems, including invoices approved by Mellott. Mellott and his co-conspirators also are accused of allegedly taking the modified commercial motor vehicles to state-approved inspection stations to pass federally regulated commercial motor vehicle inspections falsely.
Five other individuals—Gavin Rexer, Dennis Paulhamus, Joseph Powell, John Joseph, and Timothy Sweitzer—were previously charged with and pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the government and violate the Clean Air Act, as part of this investigation.
The matter was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigations Division and the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General, with the assistance of the Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement agencies. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Phillip J. Caraballo and Sean Camoni, and by Special Assistant United States Attorney Patricia C. Miller.
Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law for the most serious offense is five years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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