TPWD environmental crimes investigation leads to felony convictions

TPWD environmental crimes investigation leads to felony convictions
TPWD
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POSTED: Monday, October 7, 2013 - 7:31pm

UPDATED: Monday, October 7, 2013 - 7:39pm

Marcus Edward Clyburn of Houston was found guilty in the 263rd District Court of Harris County on Thursday, October 3, of numerous felony offenses stemming from an environmental crimes investigation that began in February of this year.

Sergeant Cynthia Guajardo-Echols, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) game warden assigned to the agency’s environmental crimes unit, initiated the investigation along with the Houston Police Department’s Environmental Investigations Unit (HPD — EIU) after receiving a complaint months earlier regarding the abandonment of hazardous materials inside a Houston warehouse.

Soon after the investigation began, it became evident Clyburn was responsible for violation of environmental laws. As investigators looked deeper, they discovered a substantial cache of abandoned hazardous and non-hazardous waste material in warehouses rented by Clyburn spread throughout the Houston area. Because of the magnitude of the discovery, the state’s environmental task force (a collaboration between TPWD, HPD — EIU, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Criminal Investigations Unit, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division) was brought into the investigation.

Echols and her colleagues subsequently uncovered an elaborate scheme conducted by Clyburn wherein he defrauded many of his clients of money, property and services nation-wide. The complexity of his scheme consisted of the use of numerous alias names, in excess of 30 business names and numerous business locations. The investigation to this point has conservatively determined that he has defrauded companies across the country of just under a million dollars of property and services.

Clyburn has now been convicted of water pollution, illegal storage of hazardous waste, forgery, aggravated theft ($100,000 to $200,000), and two counts of felony theft by check. Clyburn, who was already on probation for prior convictions of felony theft by check, remains in the custody of Harris County authorities until such time he is transferred to a state penal facility to serve a 2-year sentence.

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