Two Lansing insurance agents have pleaded guilty to creating and selling fake insurance certificates to owners and operators of aging, uninsurable underground storage tanks, U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles Jr. announced.
Allen P. Chadderdon, 33, of Williamston, and Dean P. Tucker, 55, of Lansing face up to 20 years in prison.
Chadderdon will be sentenced Wednesday and Tucker faces sentencing on March 5 before U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff. Neither man could be reached for comment Monday.
The fake documents created by the defendants made it appear some tanks were in compliance with laws requiring the tanks’ owners and operators to demonstrate the financial ability to clean up any environmental contamination caused by a leaking tank, Miles said in a news release.
Most owners and operators obtain an annual insurance policy that covers up to $1 million in clean-up costs and damages, he said.
The fake document scheme, which Miles said operated from 2011 to 2013, mostly involved gas stations with underground tanks that were uninsurable due to age or condition or were more expensive to insure than owners were willing to pay.
Rather than replace the tanks, owners and operators purchased fake insurance certificates. The Environmental Protection Agency and the FBI discovered the scheme and then worked to mitigate the risk of harm to the environment by identifying the tanks that were not in compliance.
Some gas stations were shut down until the owner or operator complied with the law. “This fraud scheme presented a serious risk of harm to … residents of more than 30 different cities, including Battle Creek, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit,” Miles said.
“Fuel and oil that leaks from underground storage tanks threaten not only the land surrounding the tank, but can harm drinking water and our state’s rivers and lakes,” he said.
“These recent pleas demonstrate that insurance agents who callously place the American people at risk by falsifying official certificates will be held accountable for their actions,” said Randall K. Ashe, special agent in charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Michigan.