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[IDEM] Three state agencies work together to protect Hoosiers
Start Date: 12/17/2012
End Date: 12/17/2012
Entry Description

IDEM employee discovers fraudulent activity by contractor


Three state agencies have worked together to uncover a contractor’s fraudulent activity and keep him from continuing to defraud Hoosier businesses. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Attorney General’s Office (OAG) and the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office each worked within their authority to revoke Jeff LaBaw’s certification to perform work on underground storage tanks. As a result, LaBaw is no longer allowed to install, upgrade or decommission underground storage tanks in Indiana. 

A variety of businesses use underground storage tanks to store and dispense petroleum products and other chemicals. Soil and ground water often must be tested by a laboratory as part of the work to upgrade or decommission underground storage tanks to ensure that contamination has not been released into the environment. Further cleanup is often required where contamination is discovered through laboratory analysis.

 

IDEM discovered that LaBaw was submitting lab reports with falsified data on soil and ground water, which suggested that the cleanups were complete at several sites where he was hired to remove underground storage tanks. The businesses that had hired Mr. LaBaw and paid for the reports he falsified now will have to spend thousands of dollars for the additional lab work necessary to ensure that contamination does not remain in the environment, and might have to perform further cleanup at these sites.  

 

Persons considering the purchase of sites where Mr. LaBaw has performed work or businesses that hired him are advised to confirm the accuracy of any lab data reported by Mr. LaBaw. 

  

“When a contractor provides fraudulent lab results it gives a black eye to the industry and all those who are conducting business in an honest and appropriate way,” said Thomas Easterly, IDEM commissioner. “IDEM is vigilant in making sure companies follow correct procedures in cleanup activity, and we are vigilant in pursuing those who falsify documents. We regret many of Mr. LaBaw’s past customers have lost thousands of dollars, and we appreciate the assistance of the Attorney General and the State Fire Marshal’s Office in preventing Mr. LaBaw from doing further injury.” 

 

“This contractor’s deceptive acts mimic the scams we see in other transactions where, for financial gain, fraudsters exploit the trust of property owners and businesspeople who try to do the right thing but get taken. We won’t stand for this brazen fraud in Indiana, and I directed my office to assist our clients in the other state agencies in shutting down this individual’s ability to deceive the public, and to look at what other remedies might be pursued,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. The Attorney General’s Environmental Litigation Section and Deputy Attorney General Tim Junk worked with IDEM and the State Fire Marshal’s Office on the legal steps necessary to revoke LaBaw’s certification.

 

“The Fire Marshal’s Office is always willing to work with other state agencies to ensure public safety,” said Jim Greeson, Indiana State Fire Marshal. The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

 

IDEM, the Attorney General and the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office caution business owners that they should not hire Mr. LaBaw for UST work because he is no longer licensed in Indiana. For businesses that need to hire consultants to install, upgrade or decommissioning underground storage tanks, business owners and operators are advised to request and check references prior to hiring a consultant, and talk to their previous customers to find out if they were satisfied with the consultant's expertise, technical and regulatory skills, promptness and client relations. IDEM provides more tips for finding a reliable environmental consultant on its website at http://www.in.gov/idem/5066.htm. Documents regarding Mr. LaBaw’s case can be found in IDEM’s virtual file cabinet (VFC), at www.idem.IN.gov, using document numbers 63941262 and 66556271.

 

About IDEM

Established in 1986, IDEM (www.idem.IN.gov) implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment.

 

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Contact Information:
Name: Barry Sneed
Phone: (317) 232-8596
Email: bsneed@idem.In.gov
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Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • IN.gov Category:
  • Agriculture & Environment
  • Agency Name
    Environmental Management, Indiana Department of

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