An Inglewood woman who ran an environmental testing company and admitted falsifying hundreds of sampling and laboratory reports relating to environmental pollutants was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison.
Regina Coleman, 41, was also ordered to pay $303,930 in restitution to victims of her scheme. Coleman, who pleaded guilty in December to three felony counts of mail fraud, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.
From 1998 through 2001, Coleman, who falsely claimed to hold a Ph.D., operated a business known as Diversified Environmental Services, Inc. in Los Angeles. During this period, Coleman was paid by her clients to obtain samples of industrial wastewaters that were being discharged pursuant to permits into the sewer system maintained by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. Coleman thereafter provided laboratory results to the clients, which where then included in environmental reports submitted to the Sanitation Districts.
The clients were typically industrial and commercial businesses that generated contaminated wastewaters during various manufacturing processes. Under the terms of their permits, these businesses must routinely sample and test their wastewaters in order to ensure that hazardous pollutants are not unlawfully discharged into the sewer system. Those hazardous pollutants could cause harm to public health, or could cause damage or upsets at the sewage treatment plant, which could lead to the release of pollutants into the ocean and environment.
As part of her services, Coleman would travel to the clients and purport to install automatic sampling devices, which are battery-operated machines designed to obtain samples of industrial wastewaters. In fact, during several surveillance operations conducted, investigating agents found that the sampling devices installed by defendant were inoperable, either because they had no batteries or contained no sampling bottles, or both.
After purporting to set up her equipment, Coleman would claim that samples were being sent to certified laboratories for analysis. No samples, however, were sent to certified laboratories for analysis. Rather, Coleman would use her computer to create false laboratory analytical reports on forms that fraudulently appeared to have been prepared by certified laboratories. Coleman would then mail the false laboratory analytical reports and billing invoices to her victim-clients knowing that such analyses were to be included in reports submitted to the Sanitation Districts.
This case was investigated by members of the Los Angeles Regional Environmental Task Force, which includes the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General; and the