Recently there have been unprecedented fines and prison terms handed down by judges in Maryland and nationwide for Clean Water Act violations and other environmental crimes. On December 5, 2012, Judge Stagg of the Western District of Louisiana sentenced John Tuma, a former general manager of Arkla Disposal Services, to 60 months in prison, 36 months probation thereafter, and a $100,000 fine for violations of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). Tuma worked at Arkla’s Shreveport, Louisiana wastewater treatment facility where he allegedly oversaw the discharge of untreated wastewater. Based on those allegations, a federal jury convicted Tuma on 3 counts of violating the CWA, 1 count of conspiracy to violate the CWA, and 1 count of obstructing justice with respect to the EPA’s inspection of the Arkla facility. Tuma has appealed the conviction and sentencing.
Tuma’s sentencing follows on the heels of an unprecedented environmental criminal penalty leveled at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, the world’s largest marketer of residential use pesticides. On September 7, the Southern District of Ohio sentenced Scotts to pay a $4 million fine for 11 criminal violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”). In a separate consent agreement, Scotts agreed to pay more than $6 million in civil penalties, spend $2 million on environmental projects, and contribute another $500,000 to organizations that protect bird habitat. According to Ignacia Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, the total criminal and civil penalty of $12.5 million is the largest payment in FIFRA’s history.
STSW attorneys have defended clients in Maryland and throughout the country (1) charged with violating Federal and State environmental crimes, including actions instituted by the United States Department of Justice and Maryland Department of the Environment, and (2) named as defendants in civil environmental suits, including CWA and FIFRA suits. Our team includes a former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland and former member of the country’s oldest law firm practicing solely in the areas of environmental law and land use. For more information, please contact experienced environmental law lawyer Bill Sinclair at (410) 385-9116.