Houstonian Becomes EPA's Latest Fugitive

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added Yousef Ishaq Abuteir of Houston to the agency’s fugitive website for failing to appear for scheduled court proceedings. EPA initially investigated the case for potential violations of the Clean Air Act arising from Abuteir’s purchase of kerosene and jet fuel, illegally blending it with other materials, and later selling it as diesel fuel in the Houston area.

“Those who are charged with violating the law must have their guilt or innocence determined in a court of law,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The public can help EPA achieve its mission by reporting any information they have on Mr. Abuteir or other fugitives.”

Abuteir was one of three individuals who pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud the IRS of millions of dollars in federal fuel excise taxes. Between July 2002 and November 2003, Sidney Berle Baldon II, owner-operator of Mid-Coast International, and Tracey Dale Diamond, an officer of the company, purchased more than $10 million of jet fuel from Calcasieu Refining Company. Baldon falsely represented in letters to Calcasieu that the jet fuel being purchased was for export to Mexico and as a result, Mid-Coast paid no federal excise taxes. Mid-Coast transported the untaxed jet fuel from Louisiana to locations owned by Abuteir in Houston and Channelview, Texas, where the jet fuel was then illegally blended with other materials including middle distillate oil, a byproduct of asphalt production. Abuteir instructed drivers to transport the untaxed, blended fuel to retail filling stations in the Houston area where it was sold as taxable motor fuel. Abuteir personally delivered cash to Baldon for the purchase of the jet fuel obtained from Calcasieu Refinery.

On April 14, 2008, Abuteir, Baldon, and Diamond all pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and willfully conspiring to evade federal fuel excise tax laws.

In 2008, the state of Texas also convicted Abuteir for violating state laws related to fuel. Abuteir failed to appear for sentencing and was sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison. A state warrant was issued for his arrest.

On February 2, 2009, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Abuteir's failure to appear for a scheduled court proceeding.

On May 14, 2009, Baldon was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison and three years supervised release and on May 28, 2009, Diamond was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison and three years supervised release. Baldon and Diamond were also ordered to jointly pay $3.3 million in restitution to the IRS.

More information on EPA’s fugitive website: http://www.epa.gov/fugitives.

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