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EPA names new head of its midwest criminal investigation program

Release Date: 02/12/2009
Contact Information: William Omohundro, 312-353-8254, omohundro.william@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-OPA018

CHICAGO (Feb. 12, 2009) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named Randy Ashe to be special agent in charge of the EPA Criminal Investigation Division's area office in Chicago. Ashe will supervise environmental crimes investigations throughout EPA Region 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

EPA's criminal enforcement program was established in 1983 and is integral to the agency's overall enforcement work. Its mission is to investigate allegations of the most serious violations of federal environmental law, and to assist the Department of Justice in the prosecution of individuals and corporations charged with criminal offenses.

CID is made up of nearly 200 criminal investigators with full law enforcement authority who are highly trained and committed to protecting human health and the environment. A CID area office under the supervision of a special agent in charge is located in each of EPA's 10 regional offices. Smaller resident offices are located in several dozen other locations across the country.

"Randy brings a wealth of criminal enforcement experience to this position," said Ella R. Barnes, director of EPA's national Criminal Investigation Division in Washington, D.C. "He will work closely with our federal and state law enforcement and regulatory partners to protect the public and environment in the region."

Ashe joined EPA's Criminal Investigation Division in 1996 and was assigned to the Baton Rouge, La., resident office. In 2003, he was promoted to assistant special agent in charge in Baton Rouge, and in 2006, was reassigned as assistant special agent in charge of the Chicago area office.

Before joining CID, Ashe served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force for 15 years, 10 of which were as an investigator in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, where he worked on criminal, fraud and counterintelligence investigations. He served in Panama during "Operation Just Cause" and in Saudi Arabia during "Desert Shield/Storm." He holds a BS degree in human services from Wayland University.

Two criminal cases successfully completed under Ashe's leadership are the Crown Chemical case in Crestwood, Ill., and the Northwestern Plating Works case in Chicago.

In the Crown Chemical case EPA got a tip of illegal dumping of chemicals into the local sewer system. EPA installed a covert sampler and caught the company in the act. The former company owner and manager both pleaded guilty, and both were fined and sentenced to probation.

In the Northwestern Plating Works case, the owner pleaded guilty to illegally stockpiling thousands of pounds of hazardous waste before the company went out of business. He also admitted embezzling from his employees' profit-sharing plan. He was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison and required to pay restitution to the employees and EPA, which paid for the proper disposal of the hazardous substances left at the site.

Potential environmental violations may be reported at www.epa.gov/compliance/complaints.

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