Environment Convictions for September 2013

Number Latest Month 47
Percent Change from previous month 67.9
Percent Change from 1 year ago -30.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -46.8
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -24.3
Table 1: Criminal Environment Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during September 2013 the government reported 47 new environment convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 67.9% 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 (-30.5 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 46.8 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 24.3 percent instead of 46.8 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 September 2013 was for "Environ-Environmental Crimes", accounting for 53.2 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Wildlife Protection" (44.7%), " Environ-Marine Resources" (2.1%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in September 2013 was Interior accounting for 53 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were: EPA (23% ), Agri (9%), Commerce (9%), DHS (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 September 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 September the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1361 involving the "Malicious Mischief - Govrnmt property or contracts". This was the lead charge for 25 percent of all magistrate convictions in September.

Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In September 2013, 39 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during September 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 September.

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 September 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 9 1 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 6 2 More
16 USC 704 - When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss 4 3 More
16 USC 703 - Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds 3 4 More
42 USC 7413 - Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd 3 4 More
16 USC 470 - Archeological Resource Protection 2 6 More
18 USC 545 - Smuggling goods into the United States 2 6 More
18 USC 1001 - Fraud/false statements or entries generally 2 6 More
21 USC 610 - Meat Inspection - prohibited acts 2 6 More
15 USC 2614 - Toxic Substances Control - Prohibited acts 1 10 More
16 USC 668 - Bald and golden eagles 1 10 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 1 10 More
18 USC 1505 - Obstruction of proceedings before departments, etc 1 10 More
18 USC 1512 - Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant 1 10 More
42 USC 6928 - Hazardous Waste Management - Federal Enforcement 1 10 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 "Water Pollution - Enforcement" under Title 33 U.S.C Section 1319.

  • Ranked 3rd was "When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 704.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In September 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 15.2 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  
Cal, C 11 1 More
La, M 4 2 More
Fla, S 3 3 More
Colorado 2 4 More
Delaware 2 4 More
Idaho 2 4 More
N. Y., W 2 4 More
Ohio, N 2 4 More
Oregon 2 4 More
S Dakota 2 4 More
Texas, E 2 4 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Central District of California (Los Angeles)—with 11 convictions—was the most active during September 2013.

  • The Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge) ranked 2nd.

  • Southern District of Florida (Miami) is 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 September 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Anderson, Percy Cal, C 3 1 More
Gee, Dolly Maizie Cal, C 2 2 More
Krieger, Marcia S. Colorado 2 2 More
Robinson, Sue Lewis Delaware 2 2 More
Lodge, Edward J. Idaho 2 2 More
Larimer, David G. N. Y., W 2 2 More
Adams, John R. Ohio, N 2 2 More
King, George H. Cal, C 1 8 More
Pregerson, Dean D. Cal, C 1 8 More
Snyder, Christina A. Cal, C 1 8 More
Fischer, Dale S. Cal, C 1 8 More
Bencivengo, Cathy Ann Cal, S 1 8 More
Lenard, Joan A. Fla, S 1 8 More
Moore, Kevin Michael Fla, S 1 8 More
Williams, Kathleen Mary Fla, S 1 8 More
Bell, Robert Holmes Mich, W 1 8 More
Jordan, Daniel Porter, III Miss, S 1 8 More
Mosman, Michael W. Oregon 1 8 More
Lange, Roberto Antonio S Dakota 1 8 More
Duffy, Veronica L. S Dakota 1 8 More
Bush, Don D. Texas, E 1 8 More
Love, John D. Texas, E 1 8 More
Gomez, Curtis V. Virgin Is 1 8 More
Rankin, Kelly H. Wyoming 1 8 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

A total of 19 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of environment convictions , while the remaining 5 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 24 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Percy Anderson in the Central District of California (Los Angeles) ranked 1st with 3 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judges Dolly Maizie Gee in the Central District of California (Los Angeles), Marcia S. Krieger in the District of Colorado, Sue Lewis Robinson in the District of Delaware, Edward J. Lodge in the District of Idaho, David G. Larimer in the Western District of New Y ork (Buffalo) and John R. Adams in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 2nd with 2 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: November 25, 2013
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