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EPA fugitive arrested in Mexico

Release Date: 07/17/2009
Contact Information: Karen Thompson, 312-353-8547,

No. 09-OPA136

(Chicago, Ill. - July 17, 2009) Robert Wainwright, a fugitive wanted in Indiana for allegedly polluting wetlands, was arrested July 14 in Mexico. U.S. Marshals and ATF Agents worked with Mexican police. Wainwright, who was convicted of federal firearms violations is being moved back to the United States and ultimately Indiana.

Wainwright is one of 21 fugitives listed on EPA's fugitive Web site His arrest resulted from two anonymous tips from people who saw Wainwright on the Web site, contacted EPA's tip line and EPA's Criminal Investigation Division Chicago area office. EPA then contacted federal law enforcement officials in Mexico, who worked with the Mexican police to make the arrest.

Wainwright was manager of Sterling Material Services in Lake County, Ind. The company, which separated metal from slag and brick waste from steel mills, allegedly disposed of waste in an adjacent wetland without a permit. The Northern Indiana Environmental Crimes Task Force, CID and ATF agents conducted a search warrant at the site and a follow-on consent-search at Wainwright's residence, where they discovered firearms and ammunition. Since Wainwright had a prior felony conviction, his possession of the firearms was illegal.

On Aug. 1, 2007, Wainwright was indicted on a felony firearms charge. He was convicted by a federal jury in the Northern District of Indiana. He also was charged by the Superior Court of Lake County for discharging a pollutant into the waters of Indiana.

While awaiting sentencing on the federal munitions charges, he fled to Mexico. He faces sentencing on those charges, as well as trial for the alleged environmental violation, after he is returned to Indiana.