Texas excavation firm pleads guilty to falsely obtaining emissions reduction grants.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has announced that Champion Dirt Inc. has pled guilty to two first degree felony counts of securing execution of a document by deception, and has paid a $10,000 fine.
Billy Ray Martinez, president of the Conroe, Texas, company, also has pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts and was ordered to serve two years probation and pay $340,000 in restitution to the TCEQ. Martinez paid $169,000 at sentencing and is required to pay the remaining balance within the term of probation.
The TCEQ Environmental Crimes Unit discovered that Martinez and Champion Dirt, an excavation and construction company, obtained grants from the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) by submitting false documents to the TCEQ.
The TERP is a voluntary incentive program administered by the TCEQ designed to help Texas meet federal air quality standards by reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide. TERP grants help offset the cost of replacing or upgrading older, high-emission trucks and off-road equipment with newer models and engines that have substantially fewer emissions.
The investigation was conducted by the TCEQ Environmental Crimes Unit, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Environmental Crimes Unit and the Texas Environmental Enforcement Task Force.