FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A federal judge sentenced a Fort Wayne woman Thursday to two years probation for falsifying documents and illegally storing hazardous waste at her local company.
Michelle M. Rousseff-Kemp had previously pleaded guilty to one count of falsifying documents and one count of illegally storing hazardous waste last year, according to U.S. district.
According to various state and federal court records, she owned and acted as 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.
Located at 1021 E. Wallace St., the business functioned as a hazardous waste transporter and broker without ever having acquired the proper permit to do so, according to federal prosecutors.
“The defendant falsified documents and knowingly violated legal requirements for the proper storage of hazardous waste,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a statement. “This case demonstrates that individuals who knowingly violate environmental laws will be held responsible for their crimes.”
According to federal court documents, Rousseff-Kemp’s company picked up hazardous waste from another company that generated such waste in June 2018. That November, the waste generator emailed Rousseff-Kemp requesting copies of manifests for recent hazardous waste shipments.
At some point, Rousseff-Kemp asked an employee of her company to forge the signature of a representative at 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 manifest back to the waste generator with false information that the waste had been delivered to the treatment facility when in reality it was still sitting at Rousseff-Kemp’s business, according to court records.
Then, Rousseff-Kemp arranged for another transportation company to pick up hazardous waste from a waste generator in March 2019, according to court documents. That waste was stored at her business and elsewhere until June 2019.
During that time, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management made arrangements with Rousseff-Kemp to conduct an inspection at her facility. Prior to that inspection, Rousseff-Kemp told someone she knew to transport three trailers containing drums of waste from her company’s facility to an off-site location, court documents said.
Two days later, she told IDEM inspectors the only trailers that were previously at her business that week were not present but had been empty.
That raised suspicions, and soon the Environmental Crimes Task Force of the Northern District of Indiana began an investigation.
“Protecting public health and safety by enforcing federal criminal laws governing the proper storage of hazardous waste is paramount,” said United States Attorney Clifford D. Johnson, in a statement. “My office has strong law enforcement partnerships through which we will investigate and prosecute those who jeopardize public health by criminal violations of these laws.”
Rousseff-Kemp was also order to pay a $5,500 fine.
As part of her plea deal, she must refrain from engaging in any business or occupation associated with waste management or hazardous waste storage or transporting, and also can not own, operate or manage any trucks or equipment required for such a business.
While a website still exists for her business, calls to the Fort Wayne number fail to connect.
In recent years, Rousseff-Kemp has faced various lawsuits in Allen Super Court over the failure to pay credit lines or rental fees for trucks and equipment her company used.
Since 2018, she’s been ordered to pay more than $700,000 in settlements, according to court records.