June 17, 2021
Pennsylvania Individuals Sentenced for Conspiring To Defraud the United States and Violating the Clean Air Act
On June 17, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania sentenced John Joseph, Gavin Rexer, Joseph Powell, Dennis Paulhamus, and Timothy Sweitzer each to 1 year probation and a $100 assessment for conspiring to defraud the United States and violating the Clean Air Act. Joseph, Rexer, and Powell were also sentenced to 50 hours of community service; Paulhamus received a $15,000 fine, and Sweitzer was fined $10,000. Rexer, Powell, and Joseph were employed by Rockwater Northeast LLC (Rockwater), a company that serviced the fracking industry. The investigation disclosed that between August 2013 and June 2014, the five individuals conspired to illicitly disable the emissions control devices in Rockwater’s commercial motor vehicles (CMV). Specifically, they either 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. Paulhamus also provided high-tech “defeat” devices to assist in the scheme, which the co-conspirators used to disable and manipulate the CMVs’ onboard diagnostics. 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 conducted this investigation with EPA-CID. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Pennsylvania State Police provided substantial assistance.