Radiation Control Technician Supervisors Sentenced For Falsifying Former Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard Clean-Up Records
Defendants admit substituting “clean dirt” for legitimate soil samples in order to fake the results of radiological remediation efforts.
SAN FRANCISCO – Stephen C. Rolfe and Justin E. Hubbard have been sentenced to eight months in prison for falsifying records in a federal investigation, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of Investigations (NRC:OI) Acting Director Scott Langan; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Special Agent in Charge Jay Green; and Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DOD-OIG), Special Agent in Charge Chris D. Hendrickson. Both defendants supervised a team of radiation control technicians retained to conduct radiological remediation at the former Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard. The Honorable James Donato, United States District Judge, sentenced the defendants after each pleaded guilty to falsifying documents in related criminal cases. The cases against Hubbard and Rolfe were unsealed yesterday during Hubbard’s sentencing proceedings.
Yesterday, Judge Donato sentenced Hubbard, 48, of Boulder City, Nevada, to eight months in prison for falsifying documents. Hubbard pleaded guilty on May 10, 2017, to the offense. On March 15, 2017, Rolfe, 65, of Bradenton, Florida, pleaded guilty to falsifying documents. On January 24, 2018, Judge Donato sentenced him to serve eight months in prison for the offense.
“When our community’s health and safety is in jeopardy, we must vigilantly respond with all of our law enforcement tools,” said Acting United States Attorney Tse. “This sentence reflects our commitment to ensure that bogus reports intended to deceive the protectors of our environment will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We could not have achieved this success without the coordinated efforts of the Justice Department and our partner agencies.”
“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office reaffirms the NRC’s continuing commitment to protecting public health, safety and the environment. The collaborative work of all federal agencies involved in this case serves as a reminder that the NRC will hold accountable any individual who willfully provides inaccurate and incomplete information to a safety regulator,” said NRC Executive Director for Operations Victor M. McCree.
“Accurate data is a critical component of EPA’s efforts to protect communities and the environment at Superfund sites,” said Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “Yesterday’s sentence demonstrates that those who place communities at risk by deliberately falsifying information will be held accountable.”
“Rolfe and Hubbard’s lies and shortcuts in the soil-testing process potentially put the community at risk and frustrated the contracting efforts of the U.S. Navy to test and remediate soil at the former Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard,” said Special Agent in Charge Hendrickson. “These results demonstrate that DCIS and its law enforcement partners are committed to holding accountable those who cheat the Department of Defense procurement process and U.S. taxpayers.”
According to their plea agreements (Hubbard, Rolfe), the defendants were employed by government contractors performing nuclear remediation work at the former Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard located in the Bayview District of San Francisco. Contractors at the site were expected to take soil from certain marked sampling locations, referred to as survey units, have the samples bagged and labeled, and then send them to a laboratory for analysis to determine, among other things, whether they contained certain radionuclides above an acceptable level. If a laboratory analysis determined a collected sample to contain a higher-than-allowable level of radionuclides of concern, then additional remediation of the survey area was to be conducted until all samples passed laboratory analysis. The defendants admitted that, rather than take samples from the intended survey units undergoing analysis, they participated in the substitution of dirt that was “clean” (containing acceptable levels of radionuclides) fraudulently taken from other areas within the former naval base.
As part of his plea agreement, Hubbard admitted that during 2012, he drove his company truck to an area outside the marked survey unit that he was tasked with remediating, and filled a bucket with clean dirt that he then substituted for legitimate soil samples. He then placed bar code stickers on the bags of dirt that misidentified the locations from where the samples were obtained. Hubbard acknowledged that he knew he was falsifying data that would ultimately be submitted to the U.S. Navy to demonstrate the area had been successfully remediated. Hubbard specifically admitted that on May 31, 2012, he fraudulently switched soil samples for four survey units at the former naval shipyard.
Rolfe admitted that he directed employees on his team to get clean dirt from outside the appropriate marked survey units and to substitute this clean dirt for legitimately collected samples. Rolfe estimated that he told his subordinates to obtain clean dirt in this manner on approximately twenty occasions in 2012. Rolfe further admitted that during this period, he observed forms containing this false information being filled out on between ten and twenty occasions. Rolfe admitted that on one occasion in August 2012, he personally falsified data on a tracking sheet to suggest that a sample of soil came from an area that he knew it did not. Rolfe acknowledged that he knew his conduct would impede the proper investigation and administration of the U.S. Navy’s radiological remediation efforts at the former naval shipyard.
Hubbard and Rolfe both were charged by information (Hubbard, Rolfe), each with one count of destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations and bankruptcy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1519. Pursuant to their plea agreements, they each pleaded guilty to the charge.
In addition to their prison terms, Hubbard and Rolfe were ordered to pay fines of $10,000 and $2,000, respectively. Both will be placed on a three-year period of supervised release following their prison sentences. Counsel for the defendants informed the Court that both defendants no longer work in the remediation industry. Judge Donato ordered Hubbard to self-surrender on or before July 9, 2018, to begin serving his sentence. Rolfe is currently serving his sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip Kearney and Matthew McCarthy are prosecuting the case with the assistance of paralegal Alycee Lane, and legal assistants Bridget Kilkenny and Rosario Calderon. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the NRC:OI, EPA, and DOD-OIG.