Sixth Pennsylvania Man Charged With Conspiring To Defraud the United States and Violate the Clean Air Act
On August 14, 2018, Brian Mellott, former inventory and logistics analyst at Rockwater Northeast, LLC (Rockwater), was indicted by a Federal grand jury in Scranton, Pennsylvania, 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 enforce emissions standards 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).
Previously, five individuals—Gavin Rexer, Dennis Paulhamus, Timothy Sweitzer, John Joseph, and Joseph Powell—were charged and pleaded guilty in Federal court to their roles in the conspiracy. Rexer, Powell, and Joseph worked for Rockwater, which transported water and wastewater to the State’s hydraulic fracturing industry. Paulhamus owned DJ Paulhamus Trucking, and Sweitzer owned Sweitzer’s Garage, LLC, both based in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.
The indictment alleges that between August 2013 and June 2014, Mellott and the others conspired to illicitly disable the emissions control devices in Rockwater’s CMVs. 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 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, FMCSA, and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Bureau of Patrol. The PSP 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.