2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

A vice president of operations and a former safety superintendent were convicted on multiple counts for their actions before and after an explosion at the company’s facility. The explosion resulted in five deaths and multiple injuries.

The jury found the vice president made false certifications of environmental compliance before the explosion, ordered employees to falsify documents after the explosion, and obstructed the investigation conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The former superintendent was convicted for falsifying sanitation records, which not only misled regulatory agencies but also defrauded customers who relied on those records.

Company and other Employees Pleaded Guilty
Prior to the trial, the company pleaded guilty, paid a $1 million fine, and paid $10.25 million in restitution to victims of the explosion. Five other current or former employees also pleaded guilty.

False Certification as Corporate Official and False Testimony to OSHA
The jury determined that the vice president, while acting as “corporate official,” falsely certified that the company was in compliance with its air permit. The vice president signed the certification even though inspection logs of key safety/pollution equipment had been falsified to conceal violations.

During its investigation, OSHA issued a subpoena to the vice president. Rather than invoke the 5th Amendment right not to testify, the vice president gave testimony, which the jury determined was false and led to one of the guilty findings.

To see the press release from the US Department of Justice announcing the convictions https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/wisconsin-jury-convicts-corn-milling-company-officials-workplace-safety-violations-following