Environment Convictions for November 2013

Number Latest Month 26
Percent Change from previous month -21.2
Percent Change from 1 year ago -18.4
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -35.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -11.8
Table 1: Criminal Environment Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during November 2013 the government reported 26 new environment convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 21.2% 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 (-18.4 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 35 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 11.8 percent instead of 35 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 November 2013 was for "Environ-Wildlife Protection", accounting for 76.9 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Environmental Crimes" (19.2%), " Environ-Marine Resources" (3.8%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in November 2013 was Interior accounting for 58 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were: Commerce (19% ), EPA (15%), FBI (4%), Justice Other (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 November 2013, 3 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 November the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 16 U.S.C Section 1538 involving the "Endangered Species - Prohibitive acts". This was the lead charge for 66.7 percent of all magistrate convictions in November.

Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In November 2013, 23 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during November 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 November.

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 November 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 7 1 More
16 USC 704 - When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss 5 2 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 3 3 More
18 USC 1001 - Fraud/false statements or entries generally 2 4 More
42 USC 7412 - Nat'l emission standards hazardous air pollutants 2 4 More
16 USC 668 - Bald and golden eagles 1 6 More
16 USC 1538 - Endangered Species - Prohibitive acts 1 6 More
18 USC 545 - Smuggling goods into the United States 1 6 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 "When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 704.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 371.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In November 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 8.8 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  
Miss, S 5 1 More
Cal, N 2 2 More
Fla, S 2 2 More
Ga, N 2 2 More
S Dakota 2 2 More
Virg, E 2 2 More
Alaska 1 7 More
Fla, M 1 7 More
La, E 1 7 More
Minnesota 1 7 More
N Car, M 1 7 More
Okla, N 1 7 More
Penn, E 1 7 More
Puer Rico 1 7 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson)—with 5 convictions—was the most active during November 2013.

  • The Northern District of California (San Francisco), Southern District of Florida (Miami), Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta), District of South Dakota and Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria) 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 November 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Ozerden, Halil Suleyman Miss, S 5 1 More
Batten, Timothy C., Sr. Ga, N 2 2 More
Davis, Mark Steven Virg, E 2 2 More
Gleason, Sharon Louise Alaska 1 4 More
Seeborg, Richard G. Cal, N 1 4 More
Rogers, Yvonne Gonzalez Cal, N 1 4 More
Honeywell, Charlene Vanessa Edwards Fla, M 1 4 More
Martinez, Jose E. Fla, S 1 4 More
Rosenbaum, Robin S. Fla, S 1 4 More
Berrigan, Helen Ginger La, E 1 4 More
Doty, David Singleton Minnesota 1 4 More
Peake, Joi Elizabeth N Car, M 1 4 More
Frizzell, Gregory Kent Okla, N 1 4 More
Rufe, Cynthia M. Penn, E 1 4 More
Delgado-Colon, Aida M. Puer Rico 1 4 More
Duffy, Veronica L. S Dakota 1 4 More
Moreno, Mark A. S Dakota 1 4 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

All 17 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 17 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden in the Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson) ranked 1st with 5 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judges Timothy C. Batten, Sr. in the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta) and Mark Steven Davis in the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria) ranked 2nd with 2 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: January 31, 2014
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