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Trucking Company Owner and Supervisor Get Two Years in Jail for Falsifying Records and Discharging Hazardous Materials
Release Date: 4/13/2001
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113
Donna Heron, 215-814-5113
PHILADELPHIA – The former owner of a Easton, Pa., trucking firm and his head mechanic have been sentenced to jail terms and fined for conspiracy, falsifying inspection results, and discharging hazardous materials into the Easton sewer system.
Robert Schippers, of Easton, Pa., who owned and operated Schippers Service, Inc., in Easton, was sentenced April 10 to two years in jail, three years probation and fined $5,000. Robert Padula, of Wind Gap, Pa., who Schippers employed as chief mechanic until November, 1995, was sentenced to 10 months in jail and three years probation. Padula’s cooperation during the government’s investigation earned him a reduced sentence.
Both men had pleaded guilty in February, 2000 to charges contained in a 46-count Indictment charging them with conspiring from 1984 to 1996 to violate the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA), making false statements and violating the Clean Water Act.
With regard to HMTA, the two were charged with: forging the names of the individuals performing safety tests; forging the results on tests designed to ensure that the tanks were not leaking; telling regulators that tests had been completed when they had not; falsely marking tankers with the dates of tests when none had been performed, and lying to regulators about equipment used to perform the alleged tests.
The indictment also alleged that the two men conspiried to violate the Clean Water Act by telling Easton sewage treatment personnel that the company was discharging domestic sewage only and by pumping the contaminated waste water to the sewage treatment plant between 1994 and 1996 in violation of federal Clean Water requirements.
Schippers Services primarily hauled hazardous materials such as gasoline, aviation fuel, and diesel fuel in cargo tanker trucks regulated by the federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. After each shipment, company employees would clean out the tanks using cleaning solvents and water. The waste water was collected in an underground storage tank. Employees would then secretly pump the contaminated waste water into the sewer system leading to the Easton sewage treatment plant.
Between 1984 and 1996, pretreatment regulations of the Clean Water Act prohibited the discharge of flammable or explosive wastes; floatable oils, or wastes which the plant could not treat adequately. Schippers Service is no longer in business.
This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General. EPA’s Office of Regional Counsel provided legal support, and the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia prosecuted the case.