Man gets six months for tampering with emission control devices on trucks
WILLIAMSPORT — One of six men who admitted tampering with emission control devices on heavy-duty diesel trucks used in the Marcellus Shale natural gas fields is headed to prison for six months.
The sentencing Wednesday in U.S. Middle District Court of Brian Mellott, 46, of Cumberland, Md., is believed to be the first in the nation involving after-market emission devices installed in the field.
Mellott is the first of the six to be sentenced in the scheme, after they admitted that between August 2013 and March 2016 they altered the devices on 30 heavy-duty trucks to reduce repair costs and maintenance downtime.
Mellott was an inventory and logistics analyst in Lycoming County at the Linden facility of Rockwell Northeast, a subsidiary of Rockwater Energy Solutions Inc. of Houston, Texas. Rockwater provides transportation of water and wastewater to and from natural gas wells.
Mellott’s involvement included ordering equipment – known as “defeate devices” – that, when installed, fooled control devices into believing emission systems were operating correctly. He also admitted falsifying invoices.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo-Garrison said a government expert estimated use of the “defeat devices” resulted in 26 tons of nitrous oxide plus particulate matter being released into the air from the 30 trucks.
Judge Matthew W. Brann said he considered that a relative small amount of harmful emissions when considering the country as a whole.
While the judge found the crime “not particularly serious,” he said a jail sentence was required because Mellott had a lengthy but “aged” record of theft, fraud and deception.
Following his jail term, Mellott will be on supervised release for one year during which he must perform 50 hours of community service preferably with an organization that benefits the environment.
Mellott, who said he lost his job with Rockwater over the scheme, is to report to prison on March 12.
Sentencing dates have not been set for the other five defendants.