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Press Release

Project Manager Admits to Submitting Fake Permit for Fill of Wetlands

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – October 30, 2023

SAN DIEGO – Fiona Skye McKenna, a project manager for a firm developing properties in the Otay Mesa area, pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that she falsified permits that led to the illegal discharge of pollutants in connection with a project known as the International Industrial Park.

In pleading guilty, McKenna admitted that she forged permits purportedly issued by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to place fill dirt, rock and sand into Johnson Canyon Creek at the International Industrial Park site. McKenna falsified the permits by cutting and pasting from permits the firm had obtained for work at another site.

On October 26, 2022, McKenna submitted the forged permits to the San Diego County Land Development Office to obtain a grading permit. After receiving the grading permit, the firm discharged fill dirt, rock and sand into portions of Johnson Canyon Creek, utilizing dump trucks and heavy duty powered shovels. The wetlands area of Johnson Creek flows into the Otay River, which flows into San Diego Bay.

According to the EPA, wetlands are important because, in addition to providing food and habitat for a diverse array of plants and animals, they act as buffers to flooding and erosion and serve as key links in the global water cycle. Because of their sponge-like ability to absorb water, wetlands can slow the momentum of flood waters or a coastal storm surge. Wetlands’ highly developed root systems also hold soil in place and filter pollutants, naturally improving water quality.

Sentencing is set for January 19, 2024, at 9:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Ruth B. Montenegro.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie K. Pierson.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 23cr2249-RBM                                      

Fiona Skye McKenna                                     Age: 37                       San Diego, CA


Illegal Discharge of Pollutants – Title 33, U.S.C., Sections 1311(a) and 1319(c)(2)(A)

Maximum penalty: Three years in prison and fine of not less than $5,000 or more than $50,000 per day of violation


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigations Division; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; California State Water Board Office of Enforcement


Media Relations Director Kelly Thornton (619) 546-9726 or 

Updated October 30, 2023

Environmental Justice
Press Release Number: CAS23-1020-McKenna