RAID: MINUTEMAN ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES OWNER SUED

popcornTold you to get a bowl of Popcorn ready.  Might want to make that three or four bowls of popcorn.

In March 2012 Bob Bolus, father of MES owner Brian Bolus, was found guilty of insurance fraud.

A Lackawanna County jury convicted tow truck businessman and former mayoral candidate Bob Bolus on  of insurance fraud and theft by deception involving a claim he submitted. Prosecutors said the claim was grossly inflated and included damages that could not possibly have happened in the accident.

Brian Bolus, son of Bob Bolus,  testified for the prosecution in that trial.

Bob Bolus has had a previous brush with the law. A jury convicted him in September 1991 of two counts of receiving stolen property, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of criminal solicitation. He was sentenced to four months to two years in county prison, which he served in a work-release program.

HELLAVALOT MORE INTERESTING

The participation of IRS and FBI at the raid was puzzlement.   MES blamed the raid on complaints by former employees, which MES described as disgruntled.   Is it normal to raid a business and bring in FBI and the IRS over these types of complaints?   I would think the PA and Federal Department of Labor and/or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would have been included.

The presence of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also raised questions of illegal dumping for natural gas waste.

Things just got a hellava lot more interesting.

Bob Bolus has filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act lawsuit (RICO) against Brian Bolus.  Bob Bolus claims his son, Brian Bolus, lied under oath during the March 2012 trial.  The details of the lawsuit are not available at this time.

Keep in mind lawsuits do not generally appear overnight.  Lawsuits of this nature take months to prepare.

Was this lawsuit ready and waiting prior to the raid?

Is RICO the reason for the raid and IRS/FBI’s participation?

The only things missing from this story is sex and drugs.  Stay tuned, and have the popcorn ready.

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©2013 by Dory Hippauf

MINUTEMAN ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES RAID – TIP OF THE DRILL BIT?

drill bitThe barrage of public relations and damage control has begun in what may be just the tip of the drill bit.

On its website, Minuteman Environmental Services’s (MES President, Brian Bolus, posted a letter to its customers.

Bolus again blames former employees as he did in the press release dated May 30, 2013

Several months ago I became aware that the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General (OAG) was questioning several former, disgruntled employees of Minuteman Environmental Services.

The posted customer letter further states, MES hired a former United States Attorney, now engaged in private practice, to represent them.  Mighty big guns to handle a simple case of disgruntled former employees wouldn’t you say?

At the end of the first paragraph, Bolus switches gears from “disgruntled former employees” to the question of waste disposal.

This material enables us to completely document that we have handled all of your waste professionally and in conformity with state and federal laws and regulations.  Anyone taking the time to review this material can be assured of the integrity of our business practices.

If this is all about “disgruntled former employees” why bring up the issue of waste disposal?

Obviously, the boxes and boxes of material removed during the raid will be reviewed thoroughly by state and federal agents.

Raiding a business on this scale is not something any federal or state agency does lightly.  No elected or appointed government official wakes up one morning and on a whim says “Hey gang, let’s have a raid today.”

SELDOM SIMPLE

According to “NOT THE ITEM” blog post FEDS RAID EX-CELOTEX SITE OPERATOR, news reports failed to mention the link between MES and Moran Industries – Minuteman were busily engaged in 2011 in shipping fracking waste through the Moran-owned former Celotex site, and in the process aroused much controversy and caused many problems for local residents.

When MES was shipping fracking waste through the former Celotex site, there were documented reports of trucks drilling foul smelling fluids, leaking waste containers and leaking rail cars.

According to the article, “Money, politics and pollution in fracking country” | BY WILL BUNCH, Daily News Staff Writer | January 13, 2013:  One day before Corbett took his oath of office, trucks started rolling into the Sunbury industrial site.

At the end of that day, stunned and angry neighbors counted 27 large dump trucks on their small residential street, filled with the debris from gas-drilling rigs in the Marcellus Shale. Some of the trucks were leaking liquids, said the neighbors, including Cora Campbell, who recalled that “it smelled like a combination of diesel fuel and dirt.”

For months, Campbell and others in the history-rich town of 10,000, an hour north of Harrisburg, and environmental activists pressed the new owner of the site, the logistics firm Moran Industries, and regulators from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to find out what was happening at the property and how it could handle so much fracking waste without environmental permits.

But there was something else that Sunbury residents didn’t find out until long after DEP sided with Moran Industries: Its subsidiary’s contract with an interstate railroad, signed three months after the waste-transfer station opened, now meant that it was exempt from Pennsylvania permitting laws.

CEO of Moran Industries is John Moran Jr., Moran had donated more than $100,000 to Corbett’s campaign.    Much later it was revealed Moran had “gifted” Corbett with $2,400 for personal travel, including hosting Corbett and his wife on a yacht off the coast of Rhode Island in 2011.

The records clearly show a casual, cozy relationship between the Corbetts and those seeking influence in Harrisburg.

  • On Dec. 12, 2011, Frank Schoeneman, chief executive of the Pottsville-based Empire Education Group, a leading chain of beauty schools in Pennsylvania and nationally, flew Gov. Corbett on a private jet to an event in Pittsburgh – a jaunt that the governor priced at nearly $1,407, the price of a first-class plane ticket.
  • Ten months later, Corbett signed a bill into law aimed at aiding cosmetology students who attend schools like those operated by Schoeneman, by making it easier for those students to obtain a state license.
  • On Jan. 30, 2010, when then-Attorney General Corbett was running for governor, the powerful Blank Rome law firm bought the Corbetts a pair of $2,500 tickets to attend the Philadelphia Academy of Music anniversary concert. Blank Rome also bought Corbett a $65 ticket to the Phillies’ home opener in 2010.
  • Blank Rome operates a lobbying shop representing a number of powerful interests in Harrisburg, and in 2010 was getting more involved in issues related to natural-gas drilling, or fracking, in Pennsylvania. Blank Rome is listed as an associate member of the pro-industry Marcellus Shale Coalition.
  • In January 2011, when Corbett was becoming governor and his hometown Steelers were deep into a playoff run, his longtime friend Jack Barbour – head of the powerhouse Pittsburgh law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney – bought him tickets to two of the games, worth $325. Buchanan Ingersoll is also one of the state’s most powerful lobbying firms, representing UPMC, as well as energy companies EQT and the Williams Cos. and numerous medical and pharmaceutical outfits.
  • When Corbett was sworn in that month, insurance executive Marty Lane, then-chief executive of Aegis Security Insurance, donated $1,800 to defray the cost of Susan Corbett’s inaugural gown and coat. At the time, Aegis was regulated by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. (Designers Richard and Theresa Andries, of Andries Couture, also donated $8,276 in inaugural clothing for Pennsylvania’s first lady, as well as a $1,500 birthday jacket.)
  • As the Daily News reported in January, business executive John Moran of Moran Industries was running a fracking-well waste-recycling business in Sunbury, Pa., that was under scrutiny by the state Department of Environmental Protection at the same time he paid $1,422 for the Corbetts to fly to Rhode Island for a yachting vacation with Moran over July Fourth weekend in 2011. Moran paid an additional $902 to fly the governor to events in Williamsport and Pittsburgh on Sept. 30, 2011.
  • None of the gift-givers seems particularly eager to talk. The most expansive comment came from UPMC spokesman Paul Wood, who said: “The NHL Winter Classic was a major international event showcasing Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, and UPMC was more than happy to host the governor-elect and his wife.”
  • Lane, the inaugural-gown giver, reached by the Daily News at his second home in Florida, said he’d have to check his records when he returned to his office near Harrisburg. “I don’t have them right now,” he said.

As a side note, in April of 2013, when DEP Secretary Michael Krancer officially resigned, he rejoined Blank-Rome as a partner.  Krancer was a partner from 1992 through 1999.

A partner at Blank Rome from 1992 to 1999, Mr. Krancer represented clients in complex civil and commercial litigation in state and federal courts.  He left Blank Rome for public service, serving until 2007 as Judge and Chief Judge of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), the state-wide trial/appellate court for environmental matters involving appeals from actions of the DEP.  He returned to the EHB in 2009 after a run for Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a stint as Associate General Counsel of the Exelon Corporation, where he focused on areas of environmental law, health and safety compliance, and litigation. Governor Tom Corbett appointed Mr. Krancer Secretary as his first Secretary of DEP in January 2011.

Krancer will be leading  Blank-Rome’s Energy, Petrochemical and Natural Resources Practice.

Where all of this will eventually lead is unknown.  There are many different players.    Again we ask, does this seem to be a simple case of “disgruntled former employees” or is there more to it?   Is this just the tip of the drill bit?

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©2013 by Dory Hippauf

NATURAL GAS WASTE HAULER RAIDED

minutemanFederal and State agents from the IRS, FBI, PA Attorney General’s office and Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) raided Minuteman Environmental Services (MES) around 9am on Wednesday (May 29, 2013).

MES is located at the Milton Industrial Park in Milton, PA, and has contracts to haul gas drilling waste.   Gov. Tom Corbett visited the Milton facility on Feb. 8, 2012, calling the Minuteman operation an “American success story.”  On Feb. 28, the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce honored Minuteman with its “Business of the Year” award.

The Lewisburg home of Brian Bolus, Minuteman’s CEO, was also raided.

Bolus donated $10,000 to Corbett’s campaign between 2009-2010.

Agents were at the plant for more than 9 hours and seen carrying out boxes and boxes of presumably files, documents and other records.   Reports also stated agents were combing over minuteman sewerevery inch of the plant.

Employees trying to get to work were stopped, frisked and vehicles searched.   A few employees inside the facility were handcuffed with zip ties.  They were told it was for their own protection.   (What’s up with that???? Protection from what and why???)

Meanwhile, outside, agents and workers from the Milton Regional Sewer Authority and agents were seen opening up and inspecting sewers near the MES facility.

Local News Reports:

None of the involved agencies would comment on why they were there and only said they would be there awhile due to an ongoing investigation.   Minuteman Environmental Services also declined to comment.

NOT THE FIRST TIME FOR MES

In 2011, MES was fined $7,000 by DEP for dumping and storing waste without DEP approval at sites in Green Township, Clinton County, and White Deer Township, Union County.  DEP stated the facilities held waste from natural gas drilling sites in the Marcellus Shale.

DEP was tipped off by a citizen’s complaint in July 2011.   MES received a notice from DEP in August 2011 requiring the removal and proper disposal of the waste.

Ten containers of gas-well drill cutting waste were found at the Green Township site, and 7 at White Deer.   Six of the White Deer containers held plastic lines, and one had liquid from a gas well spill.

A pile of waste on the ground was also found in White Deer.

A follow-up inspection in September confirmed that MES had complied.

David Spandoni, DEP Spokesperson, would not comment on whether DEP had the authority to shut down businesses which have these types of violations.   Spandoni did say “We have no intention of shutting this [MES] business down.”

According to information on Minuteman’s website, the company is “a participant in good standing” with the PEC Premier Contractor Assistance Program.

PEC/Premier Safety Management is a Mandeville, La., company that offers training and consulting in complying with safety and environmental regulations. Its Contractor Assistance Program aims to keep companies up to date on safety and industry and regulatory standards.

A call to PEC/Premier for comment was not returned by press time Monday.

The fine was paid to the Solid Waste Abatement Fund, which helps to fund cleanups across the state, the press release said.

Also see:  9/26/2012 Lycoming County Fracking Spill: Truck Belongs To Spill Response Company

SO MANY QUESTIONS

The general assumption as to why the raid is it involves disposal of natural gas waste as suggested by agents and local workers inspecting sewer drains.

It is curious that if this is all there is to the story, why are IRS and FBI agents involved?   Why were boxes and boxes of records confiscated, employees frisked, some handcuffed, vehicles searched and Bolus’s home also raided?

Surely, if it was just dumping, DEP could handle slapping MES on the wrist.  If it is just about dumping, perhaps on scale large enough to attract Federal attention, where’s the EPA?  Wouldn’t they have sent an agent or two along?

What’s the IRS’s part in all of this if it is just a case of dumping?

Stock up on popcorn, rumor has it this is bigger than just MES.

May 30 UPDATE: MES BLAMES FORMER EMPLOYEES

© 2013 by Dory Hippauf