Environmental crime most common among organizational offenders

December 22, 2016

Organizations charged with federal criminal offenses most commonly were accused of environmental offenses, the United States Courts announced Thursday, citing a report published by the United States Sentencing Commission.

Corporations, partnerships, unions, trusts, pension funds and nonprofits were less likely to face government fraud or antitrust complaints, for example. In fiscal year 2015, environmental crimes accounted for nearly one-third (33.2 percent) of organizational offenses reported to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Fraud accounted for 21 percent, followed by food and drug (12 percent), antitrust (7.7 percent) and import/export offenses (6.1 percent).

The study found that the 181 organizations convicted of a federal offense in FY2015 represented a 12 percent increase from the prior fiscal year. Most of the convicted organizations — 74 percent — were corporations or limited liability companies. Of those charged with crimes, 97.8 percent pleaded guilty in FY2015. Organizations paid average fines of $23 million and average restitution of $19 million. More than half of cases involved a related person who was convicted separately.

Of the environmental crimes studied, 70 percent involved water-related offenses, 16.7 percent affected wildlife, 8.3 percent involved hazardous materials, and 5 percent were air-related, according to the study.



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