Elliot Plumbing and Heating

November 28, 2010

On September 12, 1989, Howard Elliot pled guilty to criminal charges of willfully violating OSHA trenching safety standards after two of his employees were killed in a May 1988 trench collapse.  He was the owner of a South Dakota plumbing firm called Elliot Plumbing and Heating in Avon, SD. He received a six-month sentence (which was suspended to 45 days) and 3 years probation. Elliot also was ordered to pay restitution to the victims’ families.

 

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McWane

November 21, 2010

http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/criminal/mcwane-convictsummary.html

Summary of Trial Verdicts. On April 26, 2006, a jury found Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company (“Atlantic States”), a division of McWane Industries, and the plant manager, maintenance supervisor, finishing supervisor, and former human resource manager guilty of environmental crimes.  A fifth individual defendant was acquitted.  The trial began in September 2005 and is the longest federal trial (defined in length, from jury selection to verdict) in environmental crimes history.

Background Leading to Convictions. The government’s investigation began following public reports in the media and discussions with federal and state regulatory agencies.

 

Media Reports: New York Times: Workplace Safety: An investigation by the NY Times (Dec 21 – 23, 2003) and PBS’ Frontline: A dangerous business (Jan 9 2003)

McWane is one of the world’s largest makers of cast-iron water and sewer pipes and has subsidiaries located throughout the United States and Canada.  Atlantic States, located in Phillipsburg, NJ, manufactures iron pipes, which involves melting scrap metal in a cupola (a multi-story furnace) that reaches temperatures approaching 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  EPA’s investigation revealed a corporate philosophy and management practice, including threats and intimidation of workers, which led to an extraordinary history of environmental crimes, workplace injuries and fatalities, and ultimately obstruction of justice.  The company and various officials routinely violated Clean Water Act permits by discharging petroleum-contaminated water and paint into storm drains that led to the Delaware River; repeatedly violated Clean Air Act permits by, among other things, burning tires and excessive amounts of hazardous waste paint in the cupola; systematically altered accident scenes; and routinely lied to federal, state, and local officials who were investigating environmental and worker safety violations.

The defendants were charged in a 35-count indictment (one count was later dismissed) with, among other things,

  • Conspiring to illegally discharge pollutants into the Delaware River; knowingly violating Clean Air Act permit requirements; defrauding the United States by obstructing OSHA’s and EPA’s investigations; lying and falsifying documents required by OSHA and EPA for worker and environmental protection; and obstructing justice, all for their own enrichment
  • Pumping 50-100 gallons of petroleum-contaminated water, at least once a week, into a pit leading to the Delaware River, causing an 8.5 mile long oily sheen –– then lying to authorities about the spill
  • Discharging 150 gallons of asphalt-based paint into the Delaware River –– then lying to authorities about the discharge
  • Polluting the air with carbon dioxide emissions resulting from burning waste paint and used tires, in violation of Clean Air Act permits
  • Deceiving environmental officials by fraudulently lowering emissions and pollution concentrations when performing required stack tests (by melting raw materials such as plate, structural steel and “pig iron” instead of the scrap metal usually used when the tests were being performed).

 

To view all the charges against the defendants, you may access the indictment United States of America v. Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company, et al.

Verdicts: Atlantic States was named in all counts of the indictment and was convicted on five counts of making materially false statements to state and federal environmental agencies and the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA); four counts of obstructing OSHA investigations; 22 counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act and one count of violating the Clean Air Act.  One defendant, Daniel Yadzinski, was acquitted on all counts. The remaining defendants were each acquitted on at least one charge, and were each convicted of criminal conspiracy. They were also convicted of environmental and OSHA-related crimes as follows:

 

  • John Prisque, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania  (plant manager):
    • Guilty of three counts of obstruction of an OSHA investigation
    • Guilty on one count of violating the Clean Water Act
    • Guilty on one count of violating the Clean Air Act
  • Scott Faubert, of Easton, Pennsylvania (former human resource manager):
    • Guilty on one count of making false statements to OSHA
    • Guilty on two counts of obstructing an OSHA investigation
  • Jeffrey Maury, of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania (maintenance supervisor):
    • Guilty on one count of making false statements to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety and the FBI
    • Guilty of obstruction of an OSHA investigation
    • Guilty of seven counts of violating the Clean Water Act
  • Craig Davidson, of Nazareth, Pennsylvania (finishing supervisor):
    • Guilty on one count of making false statements to the NJ Department of Law and Public Safety and a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection emergency responder
    • Guilty on 16 counts of violating the Clean Water Act

Sentences: The Company and individuals were sentenced, on April 28, 2009, as follows:

  • Atlantic States:
    • $8 million fine and serve 48 months “monitored” probation that requires the company to submit biannual reports to the court.  This monitor will be paid by Atlantic States.  They were also ordered to pay a Special Assessment of $12,000.00.
  • John Prisque (plant manager):
    • 70 months in prison and must pay a Special Assessment of $525.00.
  • Scott Faubert (former human resource manager):
    • 41 months in prison and must pay a Special Assessment of $400.00.
  • Jeffrey Maury (maintenance supervisor):
    • 30 months in prison.
  • Craig Davidson (finishing supervisor):
    • 6 months in prison and must pay a Special Assessment of $575.00.

 

NY Contractor over Asbestos

November 16, 2010

http://online.wsj.com/article/APe914afcb24b7429db4695e87181bf8d8.html?mod=wsj_share_facebook

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A federal jury has convicted a Rochester contractor and his company of violating the Clean Air Act and exposing workers and the public to toxic asbestos during a demolition project at Genesee Hospital.

Keith Gordon-Smith and Gordon-Smith Contracting were convicted Friday of eight counts of asbestos-removal violations and lying to hide the violations, which occurred between January 2007 and February 2009. Prosecutors said asbestos fell like snow on workers who wore no protective suits.

Justice Department prosecutor Ignacio Moreno said Gordon-Smith knowingly exposed workers and public areas to the toxic air pollutant.

Gordon-Smith faces up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000 on each count. His company could be fined up to $500,000 on each count.