Sixth man charged in scheme to tamper with emission control devices on trucks

WILLIAMSPORT –An inventory and logistics analyst is the latest to be charged in a scheme to tamper with emission control devices on heavy duty diesel trucks used at the Marcellus Shale natural gas fields.

An indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. Middle District Court charges Brian Mellott, 45, with conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing a lawful function of government and violations of the Clean Air Act.

Five others have pleaded guilty to the same charges admitting they played a role in altering the emission-control devices on more than 30 trucks with heavy-duty diesel engines.

Mellott worked at the Linden facility of Rockwell Northeast, a subsidiary of Rockwater Energy Solutions Inc. of Houston, Texas, that provided transportation of water and wastewater to and from natural gas wells.

He and co-conspirators agreed to tamper with the emission-control systems to reduce repair costs and maintenance down time, the indictment alleges. They are accused of doing this by:

r Replacing hardware control devices with exhaust tubing or “straight pipes” that do not limit emissions.

r Removing the hardware control devices from their compartments and then re-welding the entry point to create a false appearance they remained installed.

Mellott and the others are alleged between Sept. 1, 2013, and June 27, 2014, to have arranged for Rockwater to purchase approximately 50 defeat devices to disable the on-board diagnostic systems and “straight pipes.”

Mellott is charged with approving three invoices labeled complete exhaust systems that were used to purchase $19,494 worth of defeat devices.

The others who have pleaded guilty but not sentenced are Joseph A. Powell, John E. Joseph Jr., Gavin Rexer, Dennis Paulhamus Jr. and Timothy Sweitzer.

Powell was general manager of water management for Rockwell facilities in Linden, Hickory and Avella, the latter two in Washington County.

Joseph was shop manager for Rockwell in Hickory and Rexer held the same position at Linden.

Paulhamus owns a trucking firm that did hauling for Rockwater and Sweitzer owns a garage. Both businesses are in Jersey Shore.

When they pleaded guilty, Paulhamus admitted selling $62,000 worth of defeat devices to Rockwell and Sweitzer acknowledged he passed for state inspection trucks without the required emission controls.

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