Pennsylvania pair enter guilty pleas to conspiracy, Clean Air Act violations

July 27, 2018

Land Line Staff


The final two defendants in federal case involving violations of the Clean Air Act have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the United States by disabling emissions control devices on commercial vehicles.

Joseph Powell and John Joseph entered guilty pleas on July 19 in U.S. District Court, Williamsport, Pa., for their role in the conspiracy, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.

On May 25, Powell, Joseph and three other individuals – Gavin Rexer, Dennis Paulhamus and Timothy Sweitzer – were charged with conspiracy. Rexer, Powell and Joseph worked for Rockwater Northeast LLC, a Canonsburg, Pa.-based motor carrier that transports water and wastewater to Pennsylvania’s hydraulic fracturing industry. Paulhamus owned DJ Paulhamus Trucking, and Sweitzer owned Sweitzer’s Garage LLC, both based in Jersey Shore, Pa.

The investigation disclosed that between August 2013 and June 2014, the five individuals conspired to illicitly disable the emissions control devices in Rockwater’s CMVs. Specifically, they removed the CMVs’ stock exhaust systems and replaced them with straight pipes, or hollowed out the emissions exhaust components by removing environmental filters and elements.

The co-conspirators also disabled and manipulated the CMVs’ onboard diagnostics with high-tech “defeat” devices obtained from Paulhamus and Sweitzer. They concealed these purchases in Rockwater’s books and records by mislabeling them as “exhaust systems.” They then falsely indicated that the illegally modified CMVs had passed vehicle inspections at Sweitzer’s Garage, an inspection station certified by PennDOT.

Rexer, Paulhamus, and Sweitzer pleaded guilty on June 28. No sentencing hearings have been scheduled.