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Environmental Crime and Violations
EPA Special Agents investigate the most significant and egregious violators of environmental laws which pose significant threats to human health and the environment.
Environmental Crime - What Should You Know?
On this page:
- Examples of Environmental Concerns that should be reported to State and Local Authorities
- Examples of Investigations that led to Successful Prosecutions
For Additional Information about Criminal Investigations:
- EPA Special Agents
- Criminal Provisions of Environmental Laws
- What is an Environmental Crime?
- Common Signs of Violations
- Your Safety Comes First - never try and investigate on your own - report what you see at www.epa.gov/tips
- What Task Forces or Partnerships does EPA's Criminal Enforcement program participate in?
Examples of Environmental Concerns that should be reported to State and Local Authorities
Some environmental concerns are better reported to State and Local Authorities who have immediate jurisdiction over these matters. These include:
- the residential or household dumping of vehicle and/or lawnmower oil;
- the disposal of litter;
- the use of a residential garage to paint vehicles;
- the presence of mold in residences or rental units;
- the venting of air coolants from a single car;
- surfacing sewage in the yard of a residence.
Please contact your State and Local Health Department Officials, and/or State and Local Environmental Authorities through use of telephone or web site with these concerns.
Examples of Investigations that Led to Successful Prosecutions
Baltimore City Landlord Sentenced to Prison for Lead Paint Violations
On June 6, 2012, Cephus R. Murrell was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, followed by six months of home detention as part of one year supervised release, for improper lead paint abatement at rental properties owned and managed by Murrell, as well as failure to disclose to tenants the presence of documented lead-based paint hazards.
Murrell is the president and owner of C. MURRELL BUSINESS CONSULTANTS, INC., through which Murrell owns and manages approximately 68 rental properties with 175 rental housing units throughout Baltimore. All of these properties were built before 1978 and are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations pertaining to the risks associated with lead-paint exposure. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) or its predecessor agencies have conducted environmental lead inspections for many years at properties owned by Murrell after discovering that children with elevated lead blood levels were living there. These inspections identified numerous lead hazards in tenants’ homes. The state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore have issued more than 20 Notices of Violation and compliance orders against Murrell and/or his company, C. Murrell Business Consultants, for lead-based paint violations, including situations in which a child with an elevated blood lead level was documented as living in a rental property leased by Murrell. Additionally, Murrell entered into a number of Consent Decrees with the State and City of Baltimore designed to achieve compliance with applicable lead requirements.
On July 19, 2011, Murrell pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of violating the Toxic Substances Control Act. According to his guilty plea, Murrell had workers conduct lead-paint abatement work at one of his apartments while the tenants and their children were present on site, in violation of the lead-paint abatement regulations. In addition, Murrell admitted that there were several instances in which he falsely certified to MDE that workers would be conducting lead abatement work and that a particular supervisor would be on site to supervise the work, when in fact, no supervisor was on site, also in violation of the lead-paint abatement regulations. Finally, Murrell admitted that he and his company failed to disclose to tenants the presence of documented lead-based paint hazards when they rented units he owned and managed. Many of these units had a history of lead-based paint problems that had been documented by MDE.
‘Clean Green Fuel’ Owner Convicted of Scheme to Violated EPA Regulations
and Sell Fraudulent Renewable Fuel Credits
On June 26, 2012, Rodney R. Hailey, was convicted in federal district court in Maryland of wire fraud, money laundering and a violation of the Clean Air Act, in connection with a scheme in which he sold $9 million in renewable fuel credits he falsely claimed were produced by his company, Clean Green Fuel, LLC.
In February 2013, Hailey was sentenced to 151 months in prison, ordered to pay restitution of $42 million and forfeit $9 million in proceeds of the fraud including cars, jewelry, his home and bank accounts already seized by the government.
Two civil inspectors from EPA’s Air Enforcement Division visited Clean Green’s headquarters on July 22, 2010, to inspect Hailey’s bio-diesel production facility, in response to a complaint alleging that Clean Green had been selling false RINs. Hailey was not able to provide an exact location for the bio-diesel fuel production facility, nor any records to support claims that Clean Green Fuel had produced bio-diesel fuel. When asked to explain his method of production, Hailey falsely stated that he paid employees and contractors to recover waste vegetable oil from 2,700 restaurants in the “Delmarva” area and bring it to his production facility where he converted it to bio-diesel fuel. Hailey claimed that only the drivers who picked up the oil knew the names of the restaurants, and Hailey could not provide the names of the drivers. Federal law enforcement agents investigated the scheme after a Baltimore County police detective working with Maryland’s federal financial crimes task force received a report about the large number of luxury cars parked in front of Hailey’s house. The financial crimes task force contacted the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and initiated a criminal investigation.
Hailey used the proceeds of the wire fraud scheme to purchase luxury vehicles as well as real estate and jewelry. In all of these transactions, Hailey generally used cash or checks drawn on accounts he controlled to make the purchase, including a check for $645,330.15 to buy his home in Perry Hall. The government seeks forfeiture of the cars, jewelry, property and bank accounts already seized by the government, as well as any other proceeds traceable to the offense, in order to satisfy a monetary judgment of $9 million. Hailey faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of eight counts of wire fraud; 10 years in prison for each of 32 counts of money laundering and two years in prison for each of two counts of violating the Clean Air Act.