Environment Convictions for June 2013

Number Latest Month 38
Percent Change from previous month 46.2
Percent Change from 1 year ago -44.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -46.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -28.8
Table 1: Criminal Environment Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during June 2013 the government reported 38 new environment convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 46.2% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants convicted for environment-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. (See Table 1)

When monthly 2013 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was down (-44 percent). Convictions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are down 46 percent from levels reported in 2008.

The dip in these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall decrease in environment convictions is 28.8 percent instead of 46 percent. The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases by the Justice Department.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in environment convictions

The decrease from the levels five years ago in environment convictions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of environment convictions of this type recorded on a month-to-month basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court, the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.

Within the broad category of environment, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.

Case types within environment are

  • Illegal Discharge of Toxic, Hazardous or Carcinogenic Waste

  • Wildlife Protection

  • Marine Resources

  • Environmental Crime

The largest number of convictions of these matters in June 2013 was for "Environ-Wildlife Protection", accounting for 52.6 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Environmental Crimes" (44.7%), " Environ-Marine Resources" (2.6%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in June 2013 was Interior accounting for 47 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were: DHS (18% ), EPA (18%), FBI (11%), Agri (3%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of convictions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3: Convictions by investigative agency

Environment Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In June 2013, 8 defendants in environment cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court where subsequent proceedings take place.

In the magistrate courts in June the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 16 U.S.C Section 703 involving the "Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds". This was the lead charge for 37.5 percent of all magistrate convictions in June.

Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In June 2013, 30 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during June there were an additional 0 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and therefore cover all matters filed in district court during June.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the convictions of environment matters filed in U.S. District Court during June 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
18 USC 545 - Smuggling goods into the United States 6 1 More
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 5 2 More
16 USC 703 - Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds 3 3 More
18 USC 666 - Theft or bribery in programs receiving Fed funds 3 3 More
18 USC 1001 - Fraud/false statements or entries generally 2 5 More
16 USC 668 - Bald and golden eagles 1 6 More
16 USC 704 - When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss 1 6 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 1 6 More
18 USC 1361 - Malicious Mischief - Govrnmt property or contracts 1 6 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 1 6 More
33 USC 1321 - Oil and hazardous substance liability 1 6 More
33 USC 1908 - Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties 1 6 More
42 USC 6928 - Hazardous Waste Management - Federal Enforcement 1 6 More
42 USC 7412 - Nat'l emission standards hazardous air pollutants 1 6 More
42 USC 7413 - Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd 1 6 More
Table 2: Top charges for convictions

  • "Smuggling goods into the United States" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 545) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 3372.

  • Ranked 3rd were "Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 703 and "Theft or bribery in programs receiving Fed funds" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 666.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In June 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 11.7 environment convictions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the number of environment convictions in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

The districts registering the largest number of convictions of this type last month are shown in Table 3.

Judicial District Count Rank  
Fla, S 7 1 More
Montana 4 2 More
S Car 2 3 More
S Dakota 2 3 More
Alaska 1 5 More
Cal, C 1 5 More
La, E 1 5 More
Mass 1 5 More
Miss, N 1 5 More
Miss, S 1 5 More
Mo, E 1 5 More
Mo, W 1 5 More
N Mexico 1 5 More
N. Y., E 1 5 More
Nebraska 1 5 More
Oregon 1 5 More
Penn, E 1 5 More
Virg, E 1 5 More
Wash, W 1 5 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Southern District of Florida (Miami)—with 7 convictions—was the most active during June 2013.

  • The District of Montana ranked 2nd.

  • District of South Carolina and District of South Dakota are now ranking 3rd.

Top Ranked District Judges

At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new environment crime cases resulting in convictions of this type during June 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Williams, Kathleen Mary Fla, S 5 1 More
Christensen, Dana Lewis Montana 3 2 More
Roberts, John D. Alaska 1 3 More
Wu, George H. Cal, C 1 3 More
King, James Lawrence Fla, S 1 3 More
Marra, Kenneth A. Fla, S 1 3 More
Lemelle, Ivan L. R. La, E 1 3 More
Hillman, Timothy S. Mass 1 3 More
Aycock, Sharion Miss, N 1 3 More
Bramlette, David C., III Miss, S 1 3 More
Fleissig, Audrey Goldstein Mo, E 1 3 More
Wimes, Brian Curtis Mo, W 1 3 More
Haddon, Sam E. Montana 1 3 More
Armijo, M. Christina N Mexico 1 3 More
Irizarry, Dora L. N. Y., E 1 3 More
Gossett, F.A. Nebraska 1 3 More
Panner, Owen Murphy Oregon 1 3 More
Rufe, Cynthia M. Penn, E 1 3 More
Gossett, Paige J. S Car 1 3 More
Hendricks, Bruce Howe S Car 1 3 More
Moreno, Mark A. S Dakota 1 3 More
Simko, John E. S Dakota 1 3 More
Jackson, Raymond Alvin Virg, E 1 3 More
Pechman, Marsha J. Wash, W 1 3 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

All 24 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of environment convictions . (Because of ties, there were a total of 24 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Kathleen Mary Williams in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) ranked 1st with 5 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judge Dana Lewis Christensen in the District of Montana ranked 2nd with 3 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judges John D. Roberts in the District of Alaska, George H. Wu in the Central District of California (Los Angeles), James Lawrence King in the Southern District of Florida (Miami), Kenneth A. Marra in the Southern District of Florida (Miami), Ivan L. R. Lemelle i n the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans), Timothy S. Hillman in the District of Massachusetts, Sharion Aycock in the Northern District of Mississippi (Oxford), David C. Bramlette, III in the Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson),, ranked 3rd with 1 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: August 20, 2013
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