Who's On The EPA's Most Wanted List?

Fugitives From The EPA

We all know that drugs are the business of narco cops, and that murders are treated by the homicide division. But who goes after the criminals who illegally remove asbestos or secretly store hazardous waste? The Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigations Division does. Deputy Director Doug Parker discusses the EPA's most wanted fugitives with Guy Raz.

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GUY RAZ, host:

While NASA plays doctor, the country's top environmental agency is playing cop. A special unit at the EPA has its list of America's Most Wanted, criminals on the lam wanted for violating the Clean Water or Clean Air Act. Things like dumping hazardous wastes into rivers.

Doug Parker is the EPA's number two cop, and he overseas the team that investigates environmental crimes.

Mr. Parker joins me in the studio. Welcome to the program.

Mr. DOUG PARKER (Deputy Director, EPA-Criminal Investigation Division): Good to be here.

RAZ: What do you have to do to make the EPA's most wanted list?

Mr. PARKER: Well, you have to be charged with an environmental crime by the Department of Justice or a companion state law enforcement prosecutor and decide that you don't want to face those charges. And after charging, you escape. You leave. You go on the lam. And the majority of these folks did not show up to court to address their charges. And one of them was - went on the lam after her conviction occurred.

RAZ: Now there are about 20 people on this list?

Mr. PARKER: Yeah, we've got just over 20 folks currently on the list.

RAZ: And I noticed in a few cases, the fugitives have fled to other countries.

Mr. PARKER: They have.

RAZ: Like Greece and Ireland, for example, several countries with which the U.S. has extradition treaties. So why can't you just ask some of these countries to send them back here?

Mr. PARKER: Well, it depends first of all on the country, as you correctly point out, and we've got to find them first, so we work with Interpol. We actually have a special agent assigned to Interpol, which is the International Police Organization. And when one of our fugitives goes on the lam, in addition to being put into national crime databases, which help track them, they also go into international databases, and we essentially put together an international arrest warrant.

RAZ: You've got EPA guys carrying weapons.

Mr. PARKER: Absolutely. Our...

RAZ: They're like detectives.

Mr. PARKER: Absolutely. Our agents in the Criminal Investigation Division within the criminal program are all authorized to carry weapons, execute search warrants. They have full law enforcement powers that you'd expect from someone with the Secret Service or the Marshals Service. The same techniques that we use to build a criminal case against one of the individuals on this list or one of our other cases are the same techniques that the FBI or the Secret Service might use in a credit card case. You're out there putting puzzles together, protecting human health, and the environment, and bringing bad guys to justice.

RAZ: Now, there are some crimes in here that you wouldn't think would maybe land somebody on a Most Wanted List, a government agency's Most Wanted List. I, for example, I noticed that the Giordano brothers, charged with importing and distributing cars that didn't meet U.S. emissions standards. That's a federal offense?

Mr. PARKER: Well, it can be. Yes. We have emissions standards to, obviously to protect the air and public health. And really in all facets of regulation, environmental regulation, there's a cost put on businesses and entities to comply with those. And there's a cost putting on automobile companies to comply with them. If you can import cars and bring them in without having to pay that cost, you can make actually significant sums of money while polluting, so that's what that case is about.

RAZ: So tell us a little about who now is at the top of the list.

Mr. PARKER: Well, we don't have a top per se. These are all our fugitives. Certainly the one that has gotten some significant notoriety recently is Albania Deleon out of Massachusetts, the first woman on the list, who went on the lam after being convicted at trial and was facing a lengthy prison sentence...

RAZ: What did she do?

Mr. PARKER: She was involved in running a fraudulent asbestos training certificate company. Sounds odd and innocuous, but she made hundreds of thousands of dollars by pulling in workers, many of them undocumented workers to train them, so they could know how to properly deal with hazardous materials like asbestos. Rather than train them, they got their certificate. They got it for $400 or $500. She pocketed the money. They had no training. They went out in the community and businesses and then potentially exposed themselves and others to harm.

RAZ: And we have no idea where she is.

Mr. PARKER: Not at this point. We are looking aggressively along with the U.S. Marshals Service, and we hope that she'll be coming off and any publicity we can to help identify her is helpful to us.

RAZ: Doug Parker is deputy director of the EPA's Criminal Investigations unit. And he joined us here in the studio. Mr. Parker, thanks for coming in.

Mr. PARKER: My pleasure.

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