WASHINGTON – Michelle M. Rousseff-Kemp of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was convicted Thursday in federal court in Fort Wayne after pleading guilty to forging a document and illegally storing hazardous waste. U.S. District Court Judge Holly A. Brady sentenced Rousseff-Kemp to 24 months in prison and sentenced her to pay a $ 5,500 fine.
According to court documents filed in the case, Rousseff-Kemp was president and business owner in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which introduced itself as an environmental services company providing comprehensive waste management services. Among other things, the business functions as a carrier and intermediary of hazardous waste. Neither Rousseff-Kemp nor her company had a permit to store hazardous waste.
By law, a properly prepared hazardous waste manifest must accompany hazardous waste from the waste generator to the carrier and then to the Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSD), where the waste is finally delivered. Finally, a copy of the manifest with the signatures of the carrier and the TSD facility must be sent to the hazardous waste generator.
According to court documents, in June 2018, Rousseff-Kemp’s company collected hazardous waste from another company that generated the waste. In November 2018, the waste generator sent an email to Rousseff-Kemp requesting copies of manifests for recent shipments of hazardous waste. At one point, Rousseff-Kemp asked an employee of her company to sign the name of a representative of the TSD facility in the manifesto for waste collected in June. After the employee refused, Rousseff-Kemp falsified the signature of the TSD facility representative on the manifesto. Rousseff-Kemp then sent a copy of the forged manifesto to the waste generator. The copy of the manifesto contained incorrect information, which allegedly shows that the hazardous waste was delivered to the TSD facility on July 15, 2018 and signed by a representative of the TSD facility on that date. As a matter of fact, as Rousseff-Kemp is aware, the waste was not sent to the TSD facility and remained stored by Rousseff-Kemp’s company.
“The honesty and integrity of those involved in the storage and transportation of hazardous waste is vital to protecting public health and the environment,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Ministry of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Department. “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 U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson. “My office has strong law enforcement partnerships through which we will investigate and prosecute those who endanger public health through criminal violations of these laws.”
“Defendant falsified documents and knowingly violated legal requirements for the proper storage of hazardous waste,” said Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator at the EPA’s Law Enforcement and Compliance Office. “This case shows that people who knowingly violate environmental laws will be held accountable for their crimes.
“This ruling underscores our commitment to protecting the safety and integrity of the nation’s transportation systems,” said Special Agent Andrea Kropf of the Office of the Inspector General of the Midwest of the Ministry of Transport. “Working with our law enforcement partners and prosecutors, we will continue to prosecute those who disregard laws and regulations designed to protect the public from hazardous materials.
In addition, according to court documents, Rousseff-Kemp arranged for another transport company to take hazardous waste from a waste generator in March 2019. The hazardous waste was then stored, on Rousseff-Kemp’s instructions, at its company’s facility and elsewhere. until June 2019. Meanwhile, in May 2019, Indiana’s Environmental Management Department arranged with Rousseff-Kemp to conduct an inspection at her company’s site. Prior to the planned inspection, Rousseff-Kemp ordered a person to transport three trailers containing waste drums, which are stored at the Roussef-Kemp company’s facility off-site. Among the waste drums in the trailers were hazardous waste drums collected in March. Two days later, during the IDEM inspection, Rousseff-Kemp told inspectors that the only trailers that had previously been on site this week but were not present during the inspection were empty.
The case was initiated by the Northern Indiana Environmental Adjustment Task Force and was investigated jointly by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Office of the Inspector General of the Transportation Division and the Indiana Environmental Management Division, the Criminal Investigation Service. The case is being prosecuted by Stephen J. Foster and Chris Dige of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources Department of the Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Sarah E. Knox and Special Assistant Attorney General David P. Mucha.