EPA attorney pleads guilty
Facebook Twitter Email
JUNE 28, 2000

Marc Radell, an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region III Office of Regional Counsel in Philadelphia, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contempt of court in connection with EPA agreements with three Wisconsin tribes.

In August 1999, Radell and Claudia Johnson, an employee of the EPA Region V Water Division in Chicago, were each indicted on four felony counts arising from allegations of criminal conduct that surfaced during federal civil cases in Wisconsin. Both had pleaded not guilty those charges in September 1999.

Radell and Johnson, who has since passed on, were alleged to have created and backdated EPA documents regarding agreements with the tribes.

In 1996, the EPA Region V agreed to treat the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe , the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, and the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin as states under federal environmental law. The tribes were to be allowed to determine the quality of surface waters within their reservations.

But in 1997, the state of Wisconsin challenged the EPA's agreements in federal court. The lawsuits were subsequently dismissed and the EPA was ordered to pay the state $369,000 in court costs.

The EPA also withdrew the agreements for the Lac du Flambeau and the Oneida Nation. The Menominee withdrew their application voluntarily.

The EPA had approved the tribes' treatment as states (TAS) in January 1996, but there were questions of whether or not the applications were evaluated appropriately. All three tribes had claimed jurisdiction over non-Indian land owners on their reservations.

The Oneida Nation, for example, is 95 percent non-Indian owned. The Mole Lake Ojibwe's TAS status had also been challenged by the state, but the lawsuit was dismissed since all of the land within the reservation is tribally owned.

During meetings regarding the approval of the three tribes' applications, allegations of back dating, creating, and falsifying documents arose against Radell and Johnson. Radell was alleged to have created documents for the tribes and Johnson admitted she altered documents for the Oneida, but could not recall if she had done so for the Lac du Flambeau and Menominee.

Radell faces up to six months in prison and up to $5, 000 in fines when he is sentenced in September.

The Clean Water, Safe Drinking Water, and Clean Air Acts authorize the EPA to treat tribes as states for certain programs. Over 100 tribes throughout the country in some form or another have TAS status.

Relevant Links:
The American Indian Environmental Office of the Environmental Protection Agency:
EPA Region V:
EPA Region III: