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Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5100
PHILADELPHIA – On September 15, 2005, Michael Klusaritz, 52, of Whitehall, Pa., was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $112,000 in restitution for federal environmental crimes involving the filing of false underground storage tank (UST) closure reports.
Klusaritz was convicted previously in 1997 and was incarcerated for 12 months for falsifying environmental test results when he worked at Hess Laboratories in East Stroudsburg, Pa., and when he owned Phase II Laboratories in Catasauqua, Pa..
Last week’s sentencing involved Klusaritz’s guilty plea in June 2005 to one count of mail fraud and two counts of false statements before Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez in Philadelphia, Pa. Klusaritz admitted to preparing false and fraudulent UST closure reports while employed at Boyko’s Petroleum Services, Inc., of Whitehall, Pa. Judge Sanchez imposed the sentence in federal court in Philadelphia.
“The outcome of this criminal case should serve as a deterrent to companies and individuals that engage in deceptive practices to avoid complying with environmental laws. Schemes that endanger the public’s health and environment are taken seriously by EPA and those found responsible will be prosecuted,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.
Klusaritz was criminally charged on March 16, 2005 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with causing Boyko’s Petroleum Service to bill its customers more than $110,000 between October 2001 and October 2003 for the false reports. The fraudulent scheme included falsification of analytical laboratory reports and forged signatures on false environmental reports he prepared that were submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Boyko clients.
Underground storage tanks, if not properly maintained and managed – and especially those containing petroleum or hazardous substances – can cause harm to human health and the environment by leaking or allowing spills or overflows of the products to enter the soils or groundwater.
Klusaritz faced a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment, a $750,000 fine, three years supervised release, and a mandatory special victim /witness assessment of $300 on the current charges.
The case was investigated by the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. EPA Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in Philadelphia, Pa.