“Walmart Pleads Guilty to Federal Environmental Crimes, Admits Civil Violations, and Will Pay More Than $81 Million”

May 29, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 28, 2013 released the following press release:

“Retailer Admits Violating Criminal and Civil Laws Designed to Protect Water Quality and to Ensure Proper Handling of Hazardous Wastes and Pesticides

WASHINGTON—Walmart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty today in cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the United States. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company also pleaded guilty today in Kansas City, Missouri, to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.

As a result of the three criminal cases brought by the Justice Department, as well as a related civil case filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Walmart will pay approximately $81.6 million for its unlawful conduct. Coupled with previous actions brought by the states of California and Missouri for the same conduct, Walmart will pay a combined total of more than $110 million to resolve cases alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, from a date unknown until January 2006, Walmart did not have a program in place and failed to train its employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level. As a result, hazardous wastes were either discarded improperly at the store level—including being put into municipal trash bins or, if a liquid, poured into the local sewer system—or they were improperly transported without proper safety documentation to one of six product return centers located throughout the United States.

“By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides, and other materials in violation of federal laws, Walmart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today, Walmart acknowledged responsibility for violations of federal laws and will pay significant fines and penalties, which will, in part, fund important environmental projects in the communities impacted by the violations and help prevent future harm to the environment.”

“Federal laws that address the proper handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes exist to safeguard our environment and protect the public from harm,” said André Birotte, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. “Retailers like Walmart that generate hazardous waste have a duty to legally and safely dispose of that hazardous waste, and dumping it down the sink was neither legal nor safe. The case against Walmart is designed to ensure compliance with our nation’s environmental laws now and in the future.”

“As one of the largest retailers in the United States, Walmart is responsible not only for the stock on its shelves but also for the significant amount of hazardous materials that result from damaged products returned by customers,” said Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. “The crimes in these cases stem from Walmart’s failure to comply with the regulations designed to ensure the proper handling, storage, and disposal of those hazardous materials and waste. With its guilty plea today, Walmart is in a position to be an industry leader by ensuring that not only Walmart but all retail stores properly handle their waste.”

“This tough financial penalty holds Walmart accountable for its reckless and illegal business practices that threatened both the public and the environment,” said Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. “Truckloads of hazardous products, including more than two million pounds of pesticides, were improperly handled under Walmart’s contract. Today’s criminal fine should send a message to companies of all sizes that they will be held accountable to follow federal environmental laws. Additionally, Walmart’s community service payment will fund important environmental projects in Missouri to help prevent such abuses in the future.”

“The FBI holds all companies, regardless of size, to the same standards,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the San Francisco Field Office. “We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure there is a level playing field for all businesses and that everyone follows the rules.”

“Today, Walmart is taking responsibility for violating laws that protect people from hazardous wastes and chemicals,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Walmart is committing to safe handling of hazardous wastes at all of its facilities nationwide, an action that will benefit communities across the country.”

Walmart owns more than 4,000 stores nationwide that sell thousands of products which are flammable, corrosive, reactive, toxic, or otherwise hazardous under federal law. The products that contain hazardous materials include pesticides, solvents, detergents, paints, aerosols, and cleaners. Once discarded, these products are considered hazardous waste under federal law.

Walmart pleaded guilty this morning in San Francisco to six misdemeanor counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act. The six criminal charges were filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and San Francisco (each office filed three charges), and the two cases were consolidated in the Northern District of California, where the guilty pleas were formally entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero. As part of a plea agreement filed in California, Walmart was sentenced to pay a $40 million criminal fine and an additional $20 million that will fund various community service projects, including opening a $6 million Retail Compliance Assistance Center that will help retail stores across the nation learn how to properly handle hazardous waste.

In the third criminal case resolved today, Walmart pleaded guilty in the Western District of Missouri to violating FIFRA. According to a plea agreement filed in Kansas City, beginning in 2006, Walmart began sending certain damaged household products, including regulated solid and liquid pesticides, from its six return centers to Greenleaf LLC, a recycling facility located in Neosho, Missouri, where the products were processed for reuse and resale. Because Walmart employees failed to provide adequate oversight of the pesticides sent to Greenleaf, regulated pesticides were mixed together and offered for sale to customers without the required registration, ingredients, or use information, which constitutes a violation of FIFRA. Between July 2006 and February 2008, Walmart trucked more than two million pounds of regulated pesticides and additional household products from its various return centers to Greenleaf. In November 2008, Greenleaf was also convicted of a FIFRA violation and paid a criminal penalty of $200,000 in 2009.

Pursuant to the plea agreement filed in Missouri and accepted today by U.S. District Judge John T. Maughmer, Walmart agreed to pay a criminal fine of $11 million and to pay another $3 million to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which will go to that agency’s Hazardous Waste Program and will be used to fund further inspections and education on pesticide regulations for regulators, the regulated community, and the public. In addition, Walmart has already spent more than $3.4 million to properly remove and dispose of all hazardous material from Greenleaf’s facility.

In conjunction with today’s guilty pleas in the three criminal cases, Walmart has agreed to pay a $7.628 million civil penalty that will resolve civil violations of FIFRA and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In addition to the civil penalties, Walmart is required to implement a comprehensive, nationwide environmental compliance agreement to manage hazardous waste generated at its stores. The agreement includes requirements to ensure adequate environmental personnel and training at all levels of the company, proper identification and management of hazardous wastes, and the development and implementation of Environmental Management Systems at its stores and return centers. Compliance with this agreement is a condition of probation imposed in the criminal cases.

The criminal cases announced today are a result of investigations conducted by the FBI and the EPA, which received substantial assistance from the California Department of Substance and Toxics Control, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

In Missouri, the case was prosecuted by Deputy U.S. Attorney Gene Porter and ENRD Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer Whitfield of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. In California, the cases were prosecuted in Los Angeles by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph O. Johns and in San Francisco by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Geis.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Judge set to sentence Barry Bonds

December 16, 2011
Barry Bonds

CNN on December 15, 2011 released the following:

“(CNN) — Baseball legend Barry Bonds is scheduled to be sentenced Friday for his obstruction of justice conviction.

The hearing at 11 a.m. (2 p.m. ET) will take place in a San Francisco federal courtroom less than two miles from the ballpark where Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s major league home run record in August 2007.

Federal prosecutors want Bonds, 47, to serve 15 months in prison, according to a sentencing memo filed in court earlier this month.

Defense lawyers argued in their filing that the judge should accept the probation office’s recommendation that Bonds be sentenced to two years’ probation, fined $4,000 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

Jurors who found Bonds guilty in April said he was “evasive” in his testimony to the federal grand jury investigating illegal steroids use by pro athletes.

“Because Bonds’s efforts were a corrupt, intentional effort to interfere with that mission, a sentence of 15 months imprisonment is appropriate,” the prosecution said in its memo to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.

But jurors, who were deadlocked on three perjury counts, said that it was not proven that Bonds lied when he testified that he had not knowingly used steroids. Prosecutors decided not to pursue a retrial.

Prosecutors still argued in the sentencing memo that Bonds’ denial that he was “taking steroids and human growth hormone were patently false.”

Bonds’ testimony in December 2003 was part of the investigation that targeted Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson and employees of the California drug testing laboratory known as the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO).

The testimony that led to Bonds’ conviction came when a grand jury prosecutor asked Bonds if Anderson ever gave him “anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with.”

Bonds told the grand jury that only his personal doctors “ever touch me,” and he then veered off the subject to say he never talked baseball with Anderson.

Defense lawyers argued that Bonds thought the creams and ointments Anderson was giving him were made of flax seed oils.

Sentences for other athletes convicted in connection with the BALCO investigation have not included prison time.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Barry Bonds’ lawyers seek home confinement

December 7, 2011
Barry Bonds

San Francisco Chronicle on December 7, 2011 released the following:

“Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Barry Bonds’ lawyers asked a federal judge Tuesday to sentence him to home confinement for obstruction of justice in his testimony about steroids, saying Bonds has a laudable but little-known record of public service and should be sentenced no more severely than other sports figures.

The former Giants star, baseball’s all-time home run leader, was convicted in April of trying to thwart an investigation into steroid distribution by giving evasive answers to a federal grand jury in 2003. The jury deadlocked on three charges that Bonds committed perjury in denying he had knowingly used steroids, and prosecutors have decided not to retry him.

Defense lawyers plan to appeal the conviction. In the meantime, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco is scheduled to sentence Bonds on Dec. 16 and could send him to prison for a year or more – but is unlikely to do so, based on her sentencing in earlier cases.

For example, as Bonds’ lawyers noted Tuesday, Illston sentenced former cycling champion Tammy Thomas to six months of house arrest for four convictions of lying about steroids. The judge gave track coach Trevor Graham a year of home confinement for a perjury conviction after evidence that he had supplied drugs to athletes.

A court-appointed probation officer has recommended that Bonds be given probation and home confinement for some period below six months, and Illston should follow that proposal, defense lawyer Allen Ruby said. He did not specify the recommended period and said the officer’s report was confidential.

“Mr. Bonds does not dispute that he was convicted of a serious offense,” Ruby said. But he cited the probation officer’s conclusion that his conviction appears to be “an aberration when taken in context of his entire life.”

Prosecutors have not yet submitted their sentencing recommendation.

Bonds, 47, was charged with lying to and misleading the grand jury that was investigating steroid distribution to athletes by BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in Burlingame.

His longtime friend and former trainer, Greg Anderson, refused to testify against him and spent more than a year in prison for contempt of court, preventing prosecutors from tying Bonds to BALCO tests showing steroid use.

He was convicted of obstructing justice by replying to a question about whether Anderson had ever given him injectable drugs with an answer that discussed their friendship, Bonds’ childhood and other subjects but never saying yes or no. Bonds’ lawyers said he later answered the question truthfully with a denial, but Illston upheld the conviction.

In Tuesday’s filing, Ruby said Bonds should be given credit for “charitable and civic contributions” that “have taken place away from the public eye.”

He quoted a letter to the court from a nurse at UCSF Children’s Hospital, where a new family playroom bears Bonds’ name.

Bonds has made numerous “unannounced and unpublicized visits” and is “always unfailingly kind and attentive to the many young children who flock to his side,” the nurse said. “Frequently he will go to the bedside of a particularly ill child and gently give him/her words of encouragement to ‘never give up.’ “”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Taiwan Aftermarket Auto Lights Manufacturer and Its Chairman Indicted for Alleged Participation in Price-Fixing Conspiracy

December 1, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on November 30, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— A federal grand jury in San Francisco returned a superseding indictment yesterday against a Taiwan aftermarket auto lights manufacturer, its U.S.-based subsidiary distributor and its chairman for participating in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of aftermarket auto lights, the Department of Justice announced. Aftermarket auto lights are incorporated into an automobile after its original sale, often as repairs following a collision or as accessories and upgrades.

The one-count felony superseding indictment, filed today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, charges that Eagle Eyes Traffic Industrial Co. Ltd., which is based in Tainan County, Taiwan, participated in a conspiracy to fix the prices of aftermarket auto lights in the United States and elsewhere from about July 2001 to about September 2008. The indictment also charges Eagle Eyes’ highest-ranking officer, Chairman Yu-Chu Lin, aka David Lin, for his participation in the conspiracy from about July 2001 to about September 2008. Lin is a resident of Taiwan. E-Lite Automotive Inc., Eagle Eyes’ U.S. subsidiary based in Chino, Calif., is also charged in the indictment for its participation in the conspiracy from about March 2006 to about September 2008. Today’s indictment supersedes an indictment filed on July 19, 2011, against the second-highest-ranking officer of Eagle Eyes, Vice Chairman Homy Hong-Ming Hsu.

“The Antitrust Division will continue to crack down on international price-fixing conspiracies that target U.S. businesses and consumers,” said Sharis A. Pozen, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

According to the indictment, Eagle Eyes, E-Lite, Lin, Hsu and co-conspirators participated in a conspiracy in which the participants met and agreed to charge prices of aftermarket auto lights according to jointly determined formulas. The participants in that conspiracy issued list price announcements to customers in accordance with the jointly determined price structure, and collected and exchanged information on prices for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the conspiracy. The department said that the conspirators met in Taiwan and the United States for their discussions.

Including Eagle Eyes, E-Lite and Lin, four companies and four individuals have been charged to date in connection with the department’s ongoing investigation into the aftermarket auto lights industry. On Nov. 15, 2011, Maxzone Vehicle Lighting Corp., a U.S. distributor of aftermarket auto lights, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $43 million criminal fine for its participation in the conspiracy. On Oct. 4, 2011, Sabry Lee (U.S.A.) Inc., a U.S. distributor of aftermarket auto lights, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $200,000 criminal fine for its participation in the conspiracy. On March 29, 2011, Polo Shu-Sheng Hsu, the former president and CEO of Maxzone, was sentenced to serve 180 days in prison and to pay a $25,000 criminal fine for his role in the conspiracy. Chien Chung Chen, aka Andrew Chen, the former executive vice president of Sabry Lee, pleaded guilty for his participation in the conspiracy on June 7, 2011. He is currently scheduled to be sentenced on July 17, 2012.

Eagle Eyes, E-Lite and Lin are charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals and $100 million fine for corporations. The maximum fines may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

This case is part of an ongoing joint investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI in San Francisco.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Barry Bonds’ Federal Sentencing is Scheduled for December 16, 2011 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco

August 30, 2011

MLB.com on August 30, 2011 released the following:

“By John Schlegel / MLB.com

A sentencing date of Dec. 16 has been set for Barry Bonds, whose conviction for obstruction of justice was upheld in federal court last week.

Judge Susan Illston on Friday denied Bonds’ motion to dismiss or retry the obstruction charge, the one conviction brought against Bonds in his trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, which ended April 13.

A seven-time Most Valuable Player who set the single-season and career home run records during his 22-year career, Bonds was convicted of obstruction but the jury could not come to a consensus on any of three counts of making false declarations. The charges were based on Bonds’ 2003 testimony before the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) grand jury, in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

According to the indictment against Bonds, the maximum penalty for the obstruction charge is “10 years maximum imprisonment, $250,000 fine, three years supervised release, $100 special assessment fee.” But federal sentencing guidelines reportedly suggest 15-21 months, and previous BALCO sentences suggest Bonds could be given house arrest.

Illston, who has presided over the cases brought by the BALCO investigation, previously sentenced cyclist Tammy Thomas to six months of home confinement and track coach Trevor Graham to one year of home confinement. Thomas was convicted of three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing justice but was acquitted of two perjury charges. Graham was convicted of one count of giving false statements, and the jury deadlocked on two other charges.

Illston ruled Friday that the record showed Bonds “endeavored to obstruct the grand jury” when he rambled and talked about friendship, fishing and being a “celebrity child” when asked whether trainer Greg Anderson ever had injected him with anything. The defense still could appeal the conviction.

The government has yet to announce whether it will retry any of the charges that wound up in a hung jury. While two wound up in favor of acquittal, according to jurors, Count Two — also relating to whether Bonds received injections from Anderson — was 11-1 in favor of conviction.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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