Fort Wayne businesswoman sentenced for illegally storing hazardous waste, falsifying document

The president of a Fort Wayne business that portrayed itself as an environmental services company providing waste management services has been sentenced in federal court, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

Indiana Northern District Judge Holly A. Brady sentenced Michelle M. Rousseff-Kemp to two years of probation on June 16 after she pleaded guilty to falsifying a document and illegally storing hazardous waste. Rousseff-Kemp was also ordered to pay a $5,500 fine.

Rousseff-Kemp, president and owner of KCom Environmental, portrayed her business as functioning as a hazardous waste transporter and broker. Neither Rousseff-Kemp nor her company possessed a permit to store hazardous waste, however, according to court documents.

“By law, a properly prepared hazardous waste manifest must accompany hazardous waste from the waste generator to the transporter, and then to the hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facility, where the waste is finally delivered. Ultimately, a copy of the manifest bearing signatures of the transporter and the TSD facility must be sent to the hazardous waste generator,” the DOJ said in a June 17 announcement.

On one occasion, in June 2018, court documents show that Rousseff-Kemp’s company picked up hazardous waste from another company that generated the waste and subsequently lied about properly disposing of it.

When the waste generator emailed Rousseff-Kemp in November 2018 requesting copies of manifests for the hazardous waste shipments, Rousseff-Kemp asked one of her employees to forge the name of a TSD facility representative on the manifest for the waste KCom had picked up in June, according to court documents.

The employee refused and Rousseff-Kemp forged the signature herself. She then sent a copy of the falsified manifest to the waste generator, court documents say.

The manifest copy signed by Rousseff-Kemp contained false information purporting to show that the hazardous waste had been delivered to the TSD facility on July 15, 2018, and was signed for by a TSD facility representative on that date. However, the waste remained stored by Rousseff-Kemp’s company.

In another instance, Rousseff-Kemp arranged for a different transportation company to pick up hazardous waste from a waste generator in March 2019. At Rousseff-Kemp’s direction, the hazardous waste was stored at her company’s facility and elsewhere until June 2019.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in March 2019 made arrangements with Rousseff-Kemp to conduct an inspection at her company’s facility.

Prior to the scheduled inspection, Rousseff-Kemp directed an individual to transport three trailers containing drums of waste that were being stored at her company’s facility to an off-site location.

Among the drums of waste in the trailers were the drums of hazardous waste picked up in March. During the IDEM inspection, Rousseff-Kemp told inspectors that the only trailers that were previously on-site that week, but were not present during the inspection, were empty.

The case was initiated through the Environmental Crimes Task Force of the Northern District of Indiana and jointly investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s office of criminal investigations.

Individuals who prosecuted the case include Stephen J. Foster and Kris Dighe of the environmental crimes section of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Nokes and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Mucha.

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