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Investigations

Date

Two Individuals Charged With Conspiracy and Risking Catastrophe on Interstate Pipeline Project

On May 4, 2023, State criminal complaints were filed in New Castle, Pennsylvania charging Welton Darl Shipe and Joseph Berkich with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts in connection to their work on the Mark West Liberty Pipeline, an interstate natural gas liquids pipeline. Shipe was charged with tampering with public records, tampering with records or identification, risking a catastrophe, criminal conspiracy, and unsworn falsification to authorities. Berkich was charged with forgery, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, tampering with public records, tampering with records or identification, risking a catastrophe, and criminal conspiracy.
 
The State criminal complaints allege that Shipe, while employed as a quality assurance manager at EnTech Energy Services (EnTech), hired Berkich, owner of Steel City Gamma, as an industrial radiographer to x-ray and interpret the welds on sections of the pipeline to evaluate their integrity. It is alleged that Berkich was neither trained nor certified to perform this type of work and provided forged and false certifications to EnTech. A firm later hired to re-examine Berkich's work determined that Berkich had signed off on a total of seven bad welds that threatened the integrity of the project and endangered the public. Allegedly, Shipe later directed Berkich to discreetly cut out the bad welds and repair them without reporting the repairs.
 
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
 
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.