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Investigations

Date

Five Pennsylvania Men Charged With Conspiring To Defraud the United States and Violate the Clean Air Act

On May 25, 2018, an information filed in U.S. District Court, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, charged five individuals—Gavin Rexer, Joseph Powell, John Joseph, Dennis Paulhamus, and Timothy Sweitzer—with conspiring to defraud the United States and violate the Clean Air Act. The charges were related to a scheme to defraud the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which implements and enforces emissions standards for air pollutants for diesel vehicles under the Clean Air Act, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which implements and enforces annual inspection standards for commercial motor vehicles (CMV).

Rexer, Powell, and Joseph worked for Rockwater Northeast, LLC. (Rockwater), Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which provided and transported water and wastewater to the hydraulic fracturing industry in the State. Paulhamus owned DJ Paulhamus Trucking, and Sweitzer owned Sweitzer’s Garage, LLC; both companies were based in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. 

The information alleges that, between August 2013 and June 2014, the five individuals conspired to illicitly disable the Rockwater CMVs’ emissions control devices. Specifically, they removed the CMVs’ stock exhaust systems and replaced them with straight pipes, or hollowed out the emissions exhaust components by removing environmental filters and elements. The co-conspirators also disabled and manipulated the CMVs’ onboard diagnostics with high-tech “defeat” devices obtained from Paulhamus and Sweitzer. They concealed these purchases in Rockwater’s books and records by mislabeling them as “exhaust systems.” They then falsely indicated that the illegally modified CMVs had passed vehicle inspections at Sweitzer’s Garage, an inspection station certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. 

DOT-OIG is working on this investigation with the EPA Criminal Investigation Division. FMSCA and the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol and Commercial Vehicle Safety Division provided substantial assistance. 

Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.