A former investigator for the Environmental Protection Agency has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and lying under oath in connection with his affair with an FBI agent as the two were working on a hazardous-waste case in Louisiana.
Keith Phillips, 61, of Kent, Tex., pleaded guilty on Monday before U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik Sr. of the Western District of Louisiana, the Department of Justice announced. Phillips faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the obstruction count and five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the perjury count. A sentencing date has not been set.
The events that led to Phillips’ undoing occurred from 1996 to 1999. At that time, as Main Justice reported earlier, Phillips, who was with EPA’s criminal investigations division, and the unnamed FBI agent were investigating Hubert Vidrine Jr., manager of a small refining plant in western Louisiana. The manager and several other people were indicted but eventually won dismissal of the charges.
Vidrine sued the EPA, accusing it of malicious prosecution. While he was being deposed in connection with the suit, Phillips was asked if he had had an affair with the FBI agent. He said no, a lie under oath that will probably cost him years in prison.