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Tank Contract Firm Tangles with Feds

Thursday, March 20, 2014

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A senior engineer has pleaded guilty and three executives at an Illinois tank maintenance firm have been indicted in an alleged scheme to defraud the state's Environmental Protection Agency on contracts totaling nearly $14 million.

Jeremy L. VanScyoc, PE., 37, faces years in prison after admitting that he joined colleagues at Environmental Management Inc. (EMI) in an 11-year scheme to submit fraudulent invoices to IEPA's Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) fund.

EMI Inc. Services
EMI

Environmental Management Inc. of Springfield, IL, offers remediation services for properties  contaminated by leaks from underground storage tanks. Authorities say the firm defrauded the government of millions of dollars over many years for tank work it did not do at sites across the state.

Founded in 1997, EMI is a civil and environmental engineering consulting firm based in Springfield, IL. The company offers environmental engineering, solid waste and coal mining services. One of its primary business activities was the remediation of property contaminated by petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks

Inflated, Dummy Invoices

Under the LUST program, the property owner hires the tank remediation contractor, who then performs the work and submits a bill to the property owner. The owner thaen passes along the invoice to the EPA, which pays the contractor.

VanScyoc joined EMI in late October 2001 and obtained a small ownership interest in 2007, according to court documents and the FBI. From Oct. 29, 2001, to Nov. 27, 2012, VanScyoc submitted what were represented as legitimate invoices for work performed when, in fact, the claims were inflated.

VanScyoc, now a Senior Engineer with the firm, also admitted creating or modifying invoices to make it appear as if they had been submitted by subcontractors. The invoices were either exaggerated or wholly fictitious, authorities said

EMI
EMI

Founded in 1997, EMI offers a variety of environmental and civil engineering services.

VanScyoc, of Springfield, waived indictment and pled guilty on March 10 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the amount of pecuniary gain or loss to the victim when he is sentenced July 21.

Other Indictments

VanScyoc is just the latest casualty related to EMI's activities. In October 2013, a federal grand jury indicted three former and current EMI officers on criminal charges relating to an alleged scheme done under the auspices of environmental cleanup at hundreds of leaking underground tank sites across Illinois.

The defendants are charged with conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud to illegally obtain millions of dollars from the Illnois LUST fund.

According to the indictment:

  • Joel C. Andrews was the president of EMI from at least 1997 until September 2006;
  • Eric M. Andrews became an officer with EMI in September 1999; and
  • Michael R. Keebler joined the firm on April 1, 2001, and became an officer in 2003.

On or about Sept. 30, 2006, authorities said, Joel Andrews sold the business and Keebler became the majority owner and EMI president. The indictment charges the three men with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and 10 counts of mail fraud.

LUST renovation
IEPA

Illinois EPA oversees the state's Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST) Program.

The indictment  seeks a personal money judgment against the three defendants, jointly and severally, of at least $13.6 million—the amount of the net proceeds obtained as a result of the alleged offenses.

Two other employees of the firm, Duane T. Keebler and Joseph R. Keebler, were also indicted at that time, but the status of their case was unavailable Wednesday (March 19).

Investigation

An IEPA spokesman told WTAX radio that the investigation began when an inspector found that a concrete pad was not installed as required at a site in McLean County in 2010.

“Doing that type of thing requires follow-up efforts years after the fact," the spokesman said. "And so, the inspector was just doing a routine follow-up, and he noted that they never laid the concrete, but yet they billed for it.

"So that raised some questions."

 

   

Tagged categories: Cleanup; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Government contracts; hazardous materials; Maintenance programs; Tanks

Comment from WAN MOHAMAD NOR WAN ABDUL RAHMAN, (3/20/2014, 4:21 AM)

GREED IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.


Comment from Michael Deaton, (3/29/2014, 5:01 AM)

It is truly amazing how greed will drive a human being as well as a company. Athough there is corruption everywhere, Illinois seems to be popping up quite a bit here lately. From the Governor on down. What happened to the pretense of bidding a job realistically, performing the work honestly, and making a profit. Instead the contractors put some crazy low bid in and then rely on short cuts, cheating , and tying the state up in court over some ignorant technicality. Amazing...


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