Six prosecuted for tampering with emissions systems on diesel trucks to pass inspection

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WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The US Attorney for the Middle District of PA announced Wednesday that Rockwater Northeast LLC, a “Pennsylvania-based company that provides water management services to companies in the oil and gas industry” according to the US Attorney, has pleaded guilty to 31 counts of violating the Clean Air Act.

They are accused of installing devices that deactivated emissions diagnostic systems on 31 of their heavy-duty diesel trucks, later having the trucks inspected by the Department of Transportation.

The company was ordered to pay $2 million in fines and $12,400 in special assessments for the violations.

Also, a Texas company known as Select Energy Services Inc. who owns the parent company of Rockwater Northeast LLC was fined $2.3 million as part of a non-prosecution agreement with the government. The agreement is, at least in part, to comply with the investigation into Rockwater Northeast LLC’s parent company, Rockwater Energy Solutions, Inc., for similarly modifying emissions systems on an additional 29 heavy-duty diesel trucks, according to the court’s press release.

Select Energy Services Inc. acquired the company in 2017 and has cooperated with the investigation since then according to the US Attorney. They have done annual compliance audits to ensure Clean Air Act violations are not occurring and have implemented a program to prevent such violations as part of a three-year agreement.

Six people were also charged in this investigation. Four are current/former employees of Rockwater Northeast LLC and two are former third-party vendors with the company. They all pleaded guilty to “conspiring to impede the lawful functions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DOT, and to violate the Clean Air Act.

  • Brian Mellot, of Cumberland, Maryland, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and one year of supervised release;
  • Gavin Rexer of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Dennis Paulhamus of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Joseph Powell of Hickory, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing;
  • John Joseph of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing; and
  • Timothy Sweitzer of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Eyewitness News has reached out to Rockwater Northeast LLC and is awaiting a response.

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