Environmental Criminal Enforcement

Venable's Environmental Practice Group and Investigations and White Collar Defense Practice Group work collaboratively with clients, leveraging extensive, first-hand experience to guide them through all facets of environmental enforcement, including high-stakes criminal matters.

Team members have held positions in the U.S. Justice Department Environment Division and in a major U.S. Attorney's office focusing on investigation and prosecution of environmental crimes. As a result, we have extensive, firsthand experience with enforcement matters as both prosecutors and defense counsel.

Our team can help clients respond effectively and efficiently to government investigations and requests for information. Our multidisciplinary approach combines in-depth and detailed knowledge of complex state and federal environmental regulatory schemes with extensive trial defense and appellate court experience. The government’s ultimate enforcement intention behind major investigations is often unclear. As a result, we work closely with clients to communicate effectively with government officials, to help keep enforcement matters from evolving into a criminal prosecution. In the instances where an investigation or enforcement action is pursued as a criminal matter, our team is fully prepared to defend clients at all stages of the investigation and prosecution.

Equally important, the creation and implementation of a risk-based compliance plan is often the best defense against all government enforcement actions. We work with clients to develop comprehensive plans that demonstrate an organization's commitment to environmental compliance, and when necessary, corrective action if violations are revealed. Well-crafted and executed internal compliance plans can also promote meaningful community engagement to establish positive relationships between an organization and its neighbors. This approach takes on added importance with government enforcement measures focused on equity and addressing pollution impacts on traditionally disadvantaged communities. We assist clients in the development of internal auditing and compliance plans that can identify problems before they develop into a government enforcement matter. 



  • Represented one of the largest manufacturers of cast iron and ductile pipe in the United States in a multijurisdictional criminal investigation/prosecution focused on environmental and safety-related violations. Negotiated plea agreements in three of the five jurisdictions where DOJ had brought criminal charges. Also negotiated a groundbreaking consent decree to address hundreds of civil and administrative violations at more than 20 facilities nationwide, using an agreed-upon third-party consultant to evaluate internal company audits and make recommendations regarding violations and suggested penalties
  • Represented a home inspection company in parallel federal and state criminal investigations of allegations of improper lead paint testing and certification. Matter closed with no criminal charges
  • Represented minority partner in LLC in an EPA/DOJ investigation of allegations of illegal filling of jurisdictional wetlands. Investigation resulted in corporate plea by LLC; no individuals were charged in the matter