Environment Convictions for March 2013

Number Latest Month 25
Percent Change from previous month 4.2
Percent Change from 1 year ago -37.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -31.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -29.2
Table 1: Criminal Environment Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during March 2013 the government reported 25 new environment convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 4.2% 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 (-37.5 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 31.7 percent from levels reported in 2008.

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 March 2013 was for "Environ-Wildlife Protection", accounting for 56 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Environmental Crimes" (44%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in March 2013 was Interior accounting for 56 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were: EPA (28% ), Agri (8%), Commerce (4%), USAO (4%). 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 March 2013, 5 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 March 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 40 percent of all magistrate convictions in March.

Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In March 2013, 20 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during March 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 March.

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 March 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 6 1 More
16 USC 1538 - Endangered Species - Prohibitive acts 3 2 More
16 USC 668 - Bald and golden eagles 2 3 More
42 USC 7413 - Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd 2 3 More
07 USC 1361 - Publication & review of quotas 1 5 More
16 USC 703 - Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds 1 5 More
18 USC 545 - Smuggling goods into the United States 1 5 More
33 USC 1311 - Effluent limitations - Water Pollution 1 5 More
33 USC 1318 - Water Pollution Prev - Recrds, Reprts, Inspections 1 5 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 1 5 More
42 USC 7671 - Stratospheric Ozone Protection 1 5 More
Table 2: Top charges for convictions

  • "Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts" (Title 16 U.S.C Section 3372) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Endangered Species - Prohibitive acts" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 1538.

  • Ranked 3rd were "Bald and golden eagles" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 668 and "Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd" under Title 42 U.S.C Section 7413.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In March 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 7.8 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  
N Car, E 4 1 More
Fla, S 2 2 More
Minnesota 2 2 More
Alaska 1 4 More
Cal, S 1 4 More
Ga, M 1 4 More
Iowa, S 1 4 More
Kansas 1 4 More
Ken, W 1 4 More
La, M 1 4 More
Miss, N 1 4 More
Mo, W 1 4 More
Nebraska 1 4 More
Ohio, S 1 4 More
Texas, S 1 4 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh)—with 4 convictions—was the most active during March 2013.

  • The Southern District of Florida (Miami) and District of Minnesota ranked 2nd.

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 March 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Montgomery, Ann D. Minnesota 2 1 More
Flanagan, Louise W. N Car, E 2 1 More
Longenbaugh, Leslie C. Alaska 1 3 More
Gonzalez, Irma Elsa Cal, S 1 3 More
Lenard, Joan A. Fla, S 1 3 More
Marra, Kenneth A. Fla, S 1 3 More
Royal, C. Ashley Ga, M 1 3 More
Longstaff, Ronald Earl Iowa, S 1 3 More
O'Hara, James P. Kansas 1 3 More
Russell, Thomas B. Ken, W 1 3 More
Jackson, Brian Anthony La, M 1 3 More
Sanders, Harold Barefoot, Jr. Miss, N 1 3 More
Fenner, Gary A. Mo, W 1 3 More
Boyle, Terrence William N Car, E 1 3 More
Fox, James Carroll N Car, E 1 3 More
Gerrard, John Melvin Nebraska 1 3 More
Watson, Michael H. Ohio, S 1 3 More
Rainey, John David Texas, S 1 3 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

All 18 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 18 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judges Ann D. Montgomery in the District of Minnesota and Louise W. Flanagan in the Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh) ranked 1st with 2 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judges Leslie C. Longenbaugh in the District of Alaska, Irma Elsa Gonzalez in the Southern District of California (San Diego), Joan A. Lenard in the Southern District of Florida (Miami), Kenneth A. Marra in the Southern District of Florida (Miami), C. Ashley Roya l in the Middle District of Georgia (Macon), Ronald Earl Longstaff in the Southern District of Iowa (Des Moines), James P. O'Hara in the District of Kansas, Thomas B. Russell in the Western District of Kentucky (Louisville), Brian Anthony Jacks ranked 3rd with 1 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: May 9, 2013
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