WASHINGTON – Michelle M. Rousseff-Kemp, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Fort Wayne after previously pleading guilty to falsifying a document and illegally storing hazardous waste. U.S. District Court Judge Holly A. Brady sentenced Rousseff-Kemp to 24 months’ of probation and ordered her to pay a $5,500 fine.
According to court documents filed in this case, Rousseff-Kemp was the president and owner of a Fort Wayne, Indiana, business which held itself out as an environmental services company providing comprehensive waste management services. Among other things, the business functioned as a hazardous waste transporter and broker. Neither Rousseff-Kemp nor her company possessed a permit to store hazardous waste.
By law, a properly prepared hazardous waste manifest must accompany hazardous waste from the waste generator to the transporter, and then to the hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facility, where the waste is finally delivered. Ultimately, a copy of the manifest bearing signatures of the transporter and the TSD facility must be sent to the hazardous waste generator.
According to court documents, in June 2018, Rousseff-Kemp’s company picked up hazardous waste from another company that generated the waste. In November 2018, the waste generator emailed Rousseff-Kemp requesting copies of manifests for recent hazardous waste shipments. At some point, Rousseff-Kemp asked an employee of her company to sign the name of a representative of the TSD facility on the manifest for the waste picked up in June. After the employee refused, Rousseff-Kemp forged the signature of the TSD facility representative on the manifest. Rousseff-Kemp then sent a copy of the falsified manifest to the waste generator. The manifest copy contained false information purporting to show that the hazardous waste had been delivered to the TSD facility on July 15, 2018, and signed for by a representative of the TSD facility on that date. In truth, and as known by Rousseff-Kemp, the waste had not been sent to the TSD facility and remained stored by Rousseff-Kemp’s company.
“Honesty and integrity of those involved in storing and transporting hazardous waste are vital to protecting the public’s health and the environment,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We will prosecute those who falsify records and illegally store hazardous waste.”
“Protecting public health and safety by enforcing federal criminal laws governing the proper storage of hazardous waste is paramount,” said United States Attorney Clifford D. Johnson. “My Office has strong law enforcement partnerships through which we will investigate and prosecute those who jeopardize public health by criminal violations of these laws.”
“The defendant falsified documents and knowingly violated legal requirements for the proper storage of hazardous waste,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This case demonstrates that individuals who knowingly violate environmental laws will be held responsible for their crimes.”
“This sentencing underscores our commitment to protecting the safety and integrity of the Nation’s transportation systems” said Special Agent in Charge Andrea Kropf of the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General Midwestern Region. “Working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, we will continue to pursue those who disregard the laws and regulations designed to keep the public safe from hazardous materials.”
Additionally, according to court documents, Rousseff-Kemp arranged for another transportation company to pick up hazardous waste from a waste generator in March 2019. Thereafter, the hazardous waste was stored, at Rousseff-Kemp’s direction, at her company’s facility and elsewhere until June 2019. During this time, in May of 2019, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management made arrangements with Rousseff-Kemp to conduct an inspection at her company’s facility. Prior to the scheduled inspection, Rousseff-Kemp directed an individual to transport three trailers containing drums of waste that were being stored at Rousseff-Kemp’s company’s facility to an off-site location. Among the drums of waste in the trailers were the drums of hazardous waste picked up in March. Two days later, during the IDEM inspection, Rousseff-Kemp told inspectors that the only trailers that were previously on-site that week, but were not present during the inspection, were empty.
The case was initiated through the Environmental Crimes Task Force of the Northern District of Indiana and jointly investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Office of Criminal Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Stephen J. Foster and Kris Dighe of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Nokes, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Mucha.