Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

June 14, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

Owner of Brick-Cleaning Company Sentenced to 2 Weeks in Jail on Water Pollution Charges

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today the sentencing of New Faces Masonry Owner Frederick Michael Cichorz, 54, 900 block of Binney Street, Baltimore, on his earlier plea of guilty to one charge of discharging a pollutant into Maryland waters. Baltimore City District Court Judge Charles A. Chiapparelli sentenced Cichorz to six months in jail, suspending all but 14 days. He also fined Cichorz $10,000, suspending all but $5,000, and placed him on two years probation.

In September of 1999, a representative of the Baltimore City Fire Department received several citizen complaints that employees of a brick-cleaning business were washing paint-laden wastewater into the storm drain in front of 1014 S. Kenwood Avenue in Baltimore.

An investigation of the scene determined that an illegal discharge had occurred and several photographs were taken along with a sample of red sludge, later found to contain lead, was collected from the street gutter in front of the location. Agents of the Environmental Protection Agency subsequently interviewed Mr. Cichorz, at which time he admitted that his company had performed exterior brick-cleaning work at the Kenwood Avenue location and that the red sludge wastewater stream in the street gutter was generated by his employees. Later that day, EPA agents were contacted by one of the residents whom they interviewed who reported that employees of New Faces Masonry had returned to the scene and had washed the red sludge waste remaining in the street gutter into the storm drain. Mr. Cichorz, in a subsequent interview, confirmed this.

"Mr. Cichorz and his employees broke the law when they washed lead-laden wastewater into a storm drain," Attorney General Curran said. "It is Mr. Cichorz's responsibility to ensure that his employees take the necessary steps to safely contain the wastewater that is generated from their work. This is not a new concept and they simply chose to shirk their responsibility with total disregard for the safety of area residents, not to mention state waters."

The case was investigated by the US Environmental Protection Agency with assistance from the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, and prosecuted by Attorney General Curran's Environmental Crimes Unit, an example of effective joint federal, state and local law enforcement.