FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Fort Wayne woman to two years probation for forging documents and illegally storing hazardous waste at her local company.
Michelle M. Rouseff-Kemp pleaded guilty to one count of forgery of documents and one count of illegal dumping of hazardous waste last year, according to the US District.
According to various state and federal court filings, she was the owner and president of K-Com Transport Services, Inc., also known as KCOM Environmental, which was touted as an environmental services company that provided comprehensive waste management services.
The company, based at 1021 E. Wallace St., acted as a haulier and broker for hazardous waste without ever being licensed to do so, according to federal prosecutors.
“The defendant forged documents and knowingly violated statutory requirements for the proper disposal of hazardous waste,” Larry Starfield, acting deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance, said in a statement. “This case shows that individuals who knowingly violate environmental laws are held accountable for their crimes.”
According to federal court filings, in June 2018, Rousseff-Kemp’s company collected hazardous waste from another company that generated such waste.
At one point, Rousseff-Kemp asked an employee of her company to forge the signature of a representative of a treatment, storage, and disposal facility — where waste is supposed to go — on the manifest for that waste. When the employee refused, Rousseff-Kemp forged the signature.
She sent the list back to the waste producer with the false information that the waste was delivered to the treatment plant when, according to court documents, it was actually still stored at the Rousseff-Kemp store.
Then, in March 2019, according to court documents, Rousseff-Kemp arranged for another transport company to collect hazardous waste from a waste generator. This waste was stored at her shop and elsewhere until June 2019.
During this time, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management made arrangements with Rousseff-Kemp to conduct an inspection at their facility. Prior to that inspection, Rousseff-Kemp instructed an acquaintance to haul three trailers loaded with waste drums from her company’s facility to another location, court documents said.
Two days later, she told IDEM inspectors that the only trailers that were in her store that week earlier were absent and empty.
This raised suspicions, and soon the Northern District of Indiana Environmental Crime Task Force began an investigation.
“Protecting public health and safety by enforcing federal criminal statutes to properly dispose of hazardous waste is of paramount importance,” U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson said in a statement. “My office has strong partnerships with law enforcement agencies through which we will investigate and prosecute those who endanger public health through criminal violations of these laws.”
Rousseff-Kemp was also ordered to pay a $5,500 fine.
As part of her plea, she must not engage in any business or occupation associated with waste management or the storage or transportation of hazardous waste, nor own, operate or manage any truck or equipment necessary for such business.
Although a website for their business still exists, calls to the Fort Wayne number cannot be connected.
In recent years, Rousseff-Kemp has faced various lawsuits in Allen Super Court for failure to pay lines of credit or rental fees for trucks and equipment used by her company.
Since 2018, she has been ordered to pay more than $700,000 in severance payments, according to court records.