Environment Convictions for October 2012

Number Latest Month 39
Percent Change from previous month 0.0
Percent Change from 1 year ago 6.8
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -10.1
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 4.8
Table 1: Criminal Environment Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during October 2012 the government reported 39 new environment convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is the same as in 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 2012 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was up (6.8 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 10.1 percent from levels reported in 2007.

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 October 2012 was for "Environ-Wildlife Protection", accounting for 53.8 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Environmental Crimes" (46.2%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in October 2012 was Interior accounting for 62 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were: EPA (31% ), Agri (3%), DHS (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 October 2012, 17 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 October 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 88.2 percent of all magistrate convictions in October.

Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In October 2012, 22 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during October 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 October.

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 October 2012.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
42 USC 7413 - Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd 6 1 More
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 3 2 More
18 USC 1001 - Fraud/false statements or entries generally 2 3 More
33 USC 1317 - Toxic and pretreatment effluent standards 2 3 More
42 USC 6928 - Hazardous Waste Management - Federal Enforcement 2 3 More
16 USC 703 - Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds 1 6 More
16 USC 1338 - Wild Horses and Burros - criminal provisions 1 6 More
16 USC 1538 - Endangered Species - Prohibitive acts 1 6 More
18 USC 42 - Importation/shipment of animals 1 6 More
18 USC 1341 - Mail Fraud - Frauds and swindles 1 6 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 1 6 More
33 USC 1908 - Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties 1 6 More
Table 2: Top charges for convictions

  • "Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd" (Title 42 U.S.C Section 7413) 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 "Fraud/false statements or entries generally" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1001, "Toxic and pretreatment effluent standards" under Title 33 U.S.C Section 1317 and "Hazardous Waste Management - Federal Enforcement" under Title 42 U.S.C Section 6928.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In October 2012 the Justice Department said the government obtained 8.6 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  
Tenn, E 4 1 More
Cal, C 3 2 More
S Dakota 2 3 More
Texas, E 2 3 More
Conn 1 5 More
Fla, S 1 5 More
Ga, N 1 5 More
Mo, W 1 5 More
N Car, W 1 5 More
Ohio, S 1 5 More
Texas, S 1 5 More
Texas, W 1 5 More
Virgin Is 1 5 More
Wash, W 1 5 More
Wisc, E 1 5 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville)—with 4 convictions—was the most active during October 2012.

  • The Central District of California (Los Angeles) ranked 2nd.

  • District of South Dakota and Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) 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 October 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Collier, Curtis Lynn Tenn, E 4 1 More
Eick, Charles F. Cal, C 1 2 More
Gandhi, Jay C. Cal, C 1 2 More
Segal, Suzanne H. Cal, C 1 2 More
Burns, Ellen Bree Conn 1 2 More
Martinez, Jose E. Fla, S 1 2 More
O'Kelley, William Clark Ga, N 1 2 More
Fenner, Gary A. Mo, W 1 2 More
Conrad, Robert James, Jr. N Car, W 1 2 More
Graham, James L. Ohio, S 1 2 More
Duffy, Veronica L. S Dakota 1 2 More
Moreno, Mark A. S Dakota 1 2 More
Clark, Ron Texas, E 1 2 More
Crone, Marcia A. Texas, E 1 2 More
Gilmore, Vanessa D. Texas, S 1 2 More
Rodriguez, Xavier Texas, W 1 2 More
Leighton, Ronald B. Wash, W 1 2 More
Randa, Rudolph Thomas Wisc, E 1 2 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.)

  • Judge Curtis Lynn Collier in the Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville) ranked 1st with 4 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judges Charles F. Eick in the Central District of California (Los Angeles), Jay C. Gandhi in the Central District of California (Los Angeles), Suzanne H. Segal in the Central District of California (Los Angeles), Ellen Bree Burns in the District of Connecticut, J ose E. Martinez in the Southern District of Florida (Miami), William Clark O'Kelley in the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta), Gary A. Fenner in the Western District of Missouri (Kansas City), Robert James Conrad, Jr. in the Western Distric ranked 2nd with 1 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: February 6, 2013
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