New biofuels green case filed by USDOJ

New Jersey Feedstock Processor Gets Five Years for Conspiracy to Commit Biofuel Fraud

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Friday, April 7, 2017

The owner of a New Jersey feedstock collector and processor was sentenced today for his role in a scheme that generated over $7 million in fraudulent tax credits and renewable fuels credits (RIN credits) connected to the purported production of biodiesel fuel, as well as his subsequent attempts to obstruct a Grand Jury investigation into the fraud.

Malek Jalal, 52, was sentenced to 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.  He was also sentenced to pay $1,017,087 in restitution, and a $12,500 fine.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio, Acting Special Agent in Charge Frank S. Turner II for the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Acting Special Agent in Charge John Gauthier of EPA’s Criminal Enforcement Program in Ohio announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Court Judge James L. Graham.

The RFS program is a national policy, authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to be produced to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil or jet fuel.  Tax credits incentivize businesses to produce renewable fuel like biodiesel.

According to his plea, Jalal, who owned Unity Fuels of Newark, New Jersey, engaged in a scheme with other coconspirators to fraudulently claim tax credits and RIN credits multiple times on the same fuel.  Jalal did this by buying fuel from a New York-based company, blending it with other materials, and selling it back to the same New York-based company.

Jalal also admitted to obstruction of justice. According to his plea, Jalal knowingly modified and destroyed records after receiving a Grand Jury subpoena from the Southern District of Ohio. Jalal also directed an employee of Unity Fuels to fabricate false records that were provided to the Grand Jury in an attempt to hide the fraud scheme.

“Unlawful acts like those at issue in this case defraud the U.S. Government, harm American taxpayers and consumers, and undermine energy and environmental laws enacted by Congress,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood. “As today’s plea demonstrates, the Department of Justice will continue to pursue and prosecute those who seek to line their own pockets through RFS fraud.”

“Environmental programs are not immune from fraud,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “The surest way to deter this and all fraud is to catch the criminal and ensure that he is punished for the crime. That’s what we’re doing here.”

“At the IRS, protecting taxpayer money is a matter we take extremely seriously. An integral part of the agency’s mission involves detecting and catching those who claim fraudulent tax credits,” stated Frank S. Turner II, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “The object of these schemes is to defraud the government and the taxpaying public.”

“Violations of renewable fuels laws can have serious impacts on the marketplace and hurt companies that play by the rules,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at EPA.  “EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring a level playing field for businesses that follow the rules by pursuing those who blatantly violate the law.”

Assistant Attorney General Wood and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by law enforcement, as well as Department of Justice Trial Attorney Adam Cullman, Senior Trial Attorney Jeremy Korzenik and Assistant United States Attorney J. Michael Marous, who represented the United States in this case.

Green Grants and Grantees are now in #GFPFE crosshairs and there is no bag limit

The Economist’s handy graph showing the breakdown of the Trump Administration’s Proposed Budget shows in stark budgetary terms what US government agencies are facing.  I have reviewed the proposed budget and have concluded that it is the strongest indicator yet that the Trump Administration intends to reinvigorate Grant Fraud and Procurement Fraud Enforcement (#GFPFE).  The graph shows a change in overall agency funding and portends an intra-agency reorientation that is likely to effect grantees or contractors that have been awarded or are currently working on Grants or Contracts awarded by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Department of Energy (Energy).

Let’s review:

  • Review and Recap of Current Posture:

I have previously laid out  here out about why conditions are perfect for a renaissance in Grant Fraud and Procurement Fraud Enforcement (GFPFE). I took the Department of Energy’s enforcement temperature here, I looked at an EPA-OIG audit of laboratories here, and I noticed a NASA-OIG audit announcement of ground and ocean temperatures here. Last week there was an NPR story on case by case review of individual EPA scientists while newly minted EPA Administer Scott Pruitt made statements here questioning the connection between human activity and climate change while raising questions about the measurement of global temperatures. Then a top level EPA transition official, David Schnare, resigned, but not before acknowledging that while ” the vast majority of career staff at the EPA… are dedicated public servants,…there are a small handful “who were definitely antagonistic” to Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt. “They’re here for some other reason. They’re here for a cause,” he was quoted as saying in The Hill.

  • Presidential Shift in Priorities Always Wins:

EPA career civil servants who think nobility of purpose protects them in the face of an overwhelming Presidential Administration shift in priorities should pay a visit to the Antitrust Division’s field offices in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas and Philadelphia (punch line: they no longer exist).  The Antitrust Division Criminal Program’s Senior Litigators, who woke up on 911 in the World Trade Center Marriott, eagerly supported a GFPFE initiative whose purpose was to “protect the supply chain of goods and services to the nation’s warfighter.” Their tireless work and willingness to support other components of USDOJ in GFPFE efforts became a liability when a new Presidential Administration changed the definition of success from number of cases filed to the number of cases not filed (for anyone wanting to learn about the important competition enforcement function Antitrust Division Field Offices performed can start with the dearly departed Philadelphia Field Office’s Chief Robert E Connolly’s column here). The bottom line is Presidential shift in priorities always wins over perceived nobility of purpose of career public servants.

  • Nobility of Purpose in combatting CO2 is going to be challenged

I know it will come as a shock to many, but there are many scientists–legitimate scientists–who do not come to the same conclusions about the connection between rising CO2 levels and rising temperatures.  I have no idea what the truth is, but I recognize that when you have a President and heads of the EPA and Energy who doubt the warming narrative and view expenditures in that regard to be a waste of money. It would behoove everyone in the risk assessment business to understand what they think and read what they read.  If you restrict your news to the Washington Post and the New York Times, you are flying blind.  Worse, your clients will be flying blind. It is important to recognize that the outgoing administration saw this coming and adorned future budgets with global warming money that will be hard to cut out.  That will stimulate efforts to try.

  • Let’s Look At the Proposed Budget for Department of Energy:

The preamble states:

[The Budget] reflects an increased reliance on the private sector to fund later-stage research, development, and commercialization of energy technologies and focuses resources toward early-stage research and development. It emphasizes energy technologies best positioned to enable American energy independence and domestic job-growth in the near to mid-term.

My translation: Grants for developing green technologies are drying up.  No more Solyndras.

The preamble states:

It also ensures continued progress on cleaning up sites contaminated from nuclear weapons production and energy research and includes a path forward to accelerate progress on the disposition of nuclear waste. At the same time,the Budget demonstrates the Administration’s strong support for the UnitedStates’ nuclear security enterprise and ensures that we have a nuclear force that is second to none. The President’s 2018 Budget requests $28.0 billion for DOE, a$1.7 billion or 5.6  percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget would strengthen the Nation’s nuclear capability by providing a $1.4 billion increase above the 2017 annualized CR level for the National Nuclear SecurityAdministration, an 11 percent increase.

My translation: Grants for development of nuclear energy capabilities and military nuclear applications are back in vogue.  $6.5 billion in clean-up funds will be oriented towards nuclear.  The important factor to consider is that, in all likelihood, this changes the mix of responsive contractors.

  • Let’s look at EPA proposed budget:

The Compliance Assurance budget is lowered to $419 million, which is $129 million below the 2017 annualized CR level. It “better targets” EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) at a level of approximately $250 million, which would result in a savings of $233 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. ORD would prioritize activities that support decision-making related to core environmental statutory requirements, as opposed to extramural activities, such as providing STAR grants.

It supports Categorical Grants with $597 million, a $482 million reduction below 2017 annualized CR levels. These lower levels are in line with the broader strategy of streamlining environmental protection. This funding level eliminates or substantially reduces Federal investment in State environmental activities that go beyond EPA’s statutory requirements.

It eliminates funding for specific regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay, and other geographic programs. These geographic program eliminations are $427 million lower than the 2017 annualized CR levels. The Budget returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to State and local entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities.

It eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, saving an additional $347 million compared to the2017 annualized CR level.

My translation: Grants for development of green technologies and reducing CO2 emissions are slashed.  EPA is being oriented around traditional toxins to land, water and air.  Its administration of $100 million to fix Flint Michigan’s water problems and orientation around poisoning will help with the repositioning. 

So while Energy moves onto new contractors for a nuclear spend, EPA moves towards traditional environmental problems and even NASA will now move, happily for many, toward an ambitious space program, all three agencies move away from green and CO2 mitigation programs.  Current contractors and grantees in these areas have a dual problem.  First, the funding in these areas is drying up.  Second, any problems that are found in the award or administration of grants or contracts in these now shuttered programs have a lower risk of causing collateral damage to supporters of the new Administration and they undermine the case against shuttering those programs.  Within the investigative agent community and auditing community examining procurements and grants in these shuttered program areas, investigation carries even lower risk and even higher reward (imagine how an indictment early next week alleging a massive fraud scheme involving a company that had been administering a major grant would be received by the Administration that is looking to justify a shift in funding priorities).  Investigative agents, many of whom in the prior Administration felt professionally stunted because of managerial interference against developing fraud and corruption cases have now been unshackled.  Inquiries that could never blossom into full blown investigations using IG subpoenas and active grand juries can now be taken out from from the back of desk drawers or they can be reopened with the support of career mid-level management looking to take action that will be looked upon favorably when the permanent Inspector General arrives later in the year.




WASHINGTON — A co-owner of a Middlesex, N.J., industrial pipes, valves and fittings supply company pleaded guilty today to one count of making a false statement, the Department of Justice announced.

Victor Boski pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey to willfully making a materially false and fictitious statement to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at a debarment proceeding.  Previously, Boski and his company, National Industrial Supply LLC (NIS), had pleaded guilty on March 4, 2009, to participating in a kickback and fraud conspiracy to defraud the EPA at the Federal Creosote Superfund site located in Manville, N.J., and to defraud Tierra Solutions Inc., a general contractor based in The Woodlands, Texas, at the Diamond Alkali Superfund site in Newark, N.J., from approximately December 2000 to approximately September 2004.  As outlined in the 2009 plea agreement, Boski provided $55,000 in kickbacks to two employees of the prime contractor responsible for awarding contracts at the two Superfund sites in exchange for the award of sub-contracts to NIS.  These kickbacks included luxury vacations and payments to shell companies held by the two employees.  Today’s guilty plea arises from false statements Boski made to the EPA in regard to his and NIS’s debarment hearing that resulted from the 2009 guilty pleas.

According to court documents, Boski appeared before the EPA on or about Nov. 30, 2011, on behalf of NIS to review his and NIS’s future eligibility to contract with the United States.  During the course of the hearing, Boski falsely stated that he and NIS had paid kickbacks in the form of sporting event tickets and that the $55,000 in kickbacks he and NIS pleaded guilty to paying was an artificial number.

“When individuals plead guilty to participating in fraud and kickback schemes, it is crucial that that they do not then lie to government procurement officials about their conduct,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “The division will vigorously prosecute individuals who make false statements regarding the crimes they have committed.”

Including Boski, nine individuals and three companies have pleaded guilty or been convicted of charges arising out of this investigation.  More than $6 million in criminal fines and restitution have been imposed and six of the individuals have been sentenced to serve prison sentences ranging from five months to 14 years.  One individual was sentenced to six months home confinement and the remaining two were sentenced to pay criminal fines and restitution.  An additional individual, John A. Bennett, a Canadian citizen, was also charged on Aug. 31, 2009, and is facing extradition to the United States.  Boski is scheduled to be sentenced on July 7, 2014, before Judge Susan D. Wigenton.

Boski faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office, the EPA Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging, kickbacks, tax offenses or fraud relating to subcontracts awarded at the Federal Creosote and/or the Diamond Alkali sites should contact the Antitrust Division’s New York Office at 212-335-8000 or visit


WASHINGTON — A New Jersey jury convicted a former project manager for his  central role in conspiracies that spanned seven years and involved kickbacks in  excess of $1.5 million at two Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund  sites in New Jersey, the Department of Justice announced today.  The jury returned guilty verdicts on 10  counts charged in the indictment against Gordon D. McDonald, which was filed on  Aug. 31, 2009.

In addition to today’s conviction,  to date, eight individuals and three companies have pleaded guilty to charges  arising out of this investigation.

After a two-week trial, McDonald, a former project manager for a prime contractor, was convicted  of engaging in separate bid-rigging, kickback and/or fraud conspiracies with  three subcontractors at two New Jersey Superfund sites – Federal Creosote in  Manville, N.J., and Diamond Alkali in Newark, N.J.  He was also convicted of engaging in an  international money laundering scheme, major fraud against the United States,  accepting illegal kickbacks, committing two tax violations and obstruction of  justice. The various conspiracies took  place at different time periods from approximately December 2000 until approximately April 2007.  McDonald was acquitted on counts eight and nine involving certain fraud and kickback charges.

“Today’s guilty verdict sends a clear message that  corrupt purchasing officials will be held accountable for engaging in  fraudulent schemes designed to undermine the government’s competitive  contracting practices,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of  the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.   “The Antitrust Division is committed to ensuring there is fair play and competition  in our markets.”

As part of  the conspiracies, McDonald and co-conspirators at his former company accepted  kickbacks from sub-contractors in exchange for the award of sub-contracts at  Federal Creosote.  McDonald provided  co-conspirators at Bennett Environmental Inc., a Canadian-based company that  treats and disposes of contaminated soil, with bid prices of their competitors,  which allowed them to submit higher bid prices and still be awarded the  sub-contracts.  In exchange for  McDonald’s assistance, Bennett Environmental, Inc. provided him with over $1.5  million in kickback payments.

According to court documents, McDonald also  accepted kickbacks in exchange for the award of sub-contracts at the Federal  Creosote and Diamond Alkali sites from the owner of JMJ Environmental Inc., a  wastewater treatment and chemical supply company, and the co-owner of National  Industrial Supply LLC, an industrial pipes supplier.  He participated in a conspiracy with the  owner of JMJ and co-conspirators to rig bids and allocate sub-contracts at  inflated prices for wastewater treatment supplies and services at Federal Creosote.

The cleanup at Federal Creosote was  primarily funded by the EPA.  An  interagency agreement between the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designated that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hire the prime contractors at Federal Creosote.  According to a settlement with the EPA and  the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Tierra Solutions was  required to fund remedial action and maintenance of Diamond Alkali.  Tierra Solutions hired the prime contractor  for the remedial action and maintenance of Diamond Alkali.

Sentencing is  scheduled for Jan. 6, 2014, before Judge Susan D. Wigenton.  To date, more than $6 million in criminal  fines and restitution have been imposed, and five individuals have been  sentenced to serve more than 10 years in total prison time.

Today’s  conviction is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation being  conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office, the EPA Office of  Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.  Anyone with information concerning bid  rigging, kickbacks, tax offenses or fraud relating to subcontracts awarded at  the Federal Creosote Superfund site or Diamond Alkali Superfund site should  contact the Antitrust Division’s New York Office at 212-335-8000