Hanover Man Pleads Guilty To Making False Statements To The EPA
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court, a 46-year-old man from Hanover, Minnesota, pleaded guilty to making false statements in matters within the jurisdiction of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) regarding the levels of toxic pollutants in the industrial wastewater discharged by Anodize, Inc., the Buffalo-based machine shop where he worked. Brent Roland Feickert specifically pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements. Feickert, who was charged on May 13, 2013, entered his plea before U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty.
Anodize’s operations include metal plating, a process which yields industrial wastewater containing heavy metals and toxic pollutants. Anodize discharges the industrial wastewater into the sanitary sewer system pursuant to limits set forth in its discharge permit. Under the conditions of its permit, the concentration of toxic pollutants, including nickel and zinc, must be below specified limits set by the EPA. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (“MPCA”) monitors the permit and requires companies to submit quarterly reports.
At Anodize, Feickert was responsible for receiving and reviewing the results of tests performed on the company’s industrial wastewater and then entering those results on the quarterly discharge reports submitted to the MPCA. In his plea agreement, Feickert admitted that on five occasions between 2009 and 2011, he submitted false quarterly discharge reports to the MPCA. In each report, Feickert falsely represented that the levels of nickel or zinc in Anodize’s industrial wastewater discharge were within permit limits. In each instance, testing had revealed and Feickert knew that the levels of nickel or zinc were in excess of permit limits.
Following today’s plea, Michelle Beeman, Deputy Commissioner of the MPCA, said, “Self-reporting is a cornerstone of the environmental regulatory process. Water protection depends on truthful self-reporting and the MPCA considers any action that jeopardizes the integrity of the regulatory process to be a serious violation and a potential threat to the environment.”
“Without accurate and honest information, governments cannot fully protect the public’s health and welfare,” said Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Minnesota. “If toxins contained in wastewater are not clearly identified, they cannot be properly treated. When that happens, America’s waterways end up as dumping grounds for waste materials. Today’s guilty plea should serve as a warning to anyone who puts public health at risk by not carrying out his or her responsibilities honestly.”
For his crime, Feickert faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Judge Doty will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. This case is the result of an investigation by the Minneapolis Field Office of the EPA’s Criminal Investigative Division and the MPCA. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Genrich.