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

October 17, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

An Increase In Scrap Tire Dumping Complaints Sparked Investigation

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that the Baltimore City Grand Jury has returned indictments against five individuals in connection with illegal tire dumping activity in Baltimore City. The cases have been investigated and will be prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.

Charged were: Stephen Nicholson, owner of Tiremasters, Inc. located at 2100 E. North Avenue, Baltimore; James Knox, Baltimore; Samuel Lee Jones, Baltimore; Walter Wardlaw, Baltimore; Kenyon Streams, Baltimore. All of the defendants are alleged to have engaged in the improper disposal of scrap tires in various parts of Baltimore City between November 1999 and July 2000. The Environmental Crimes Unit of the Office of the Attorney General began its investigation in late 1999, when complaints of scrap tire dumping in Baltimore City significantly increased.

The joint initiative, dubbed "Operation Tire Track," was developed by Attorney General Curranís Environmental Crimes Unit, Maryland Department of the Environment and Baltimore City Department of Public Works, with assistance from the Baltimore City Police Department, Maryland State Police, F.B.I., EPAís Criminal Investigations Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"This initiative is special because it requires the cooperation of agencies at the federal, state and local level," Attorney General Curran said. "The results of this coordinated effort bode well for the environment as well as future cooperative efforts."

The Maryland Department of the Environment, represented by the Attorney Generalís Office, is seeking civil penalties and an injunction against Nicholson and Tiremasters, Inc. The complaint filed charges that Nicholson and Tiremasters, Inc. have been operating an illegal scrap tire collection facility, utilizing un-licensed tire haulers and transferring tires to places other than approved facilities. In addition to an injunction, the civil complaint seeks penalties of up to $10,000 per day for each violation of the scrap tire statutes.

Nicholson is charged with conspiracy to cause and permit the disposal of litter for commercial purposes and with three counts of causing and permitting the disposal of litter for commercial purposes. Knox, Jones, Wardlaw and Streams are all charged with criminal violations of the litter control law and with charges relating to the unauthorized use of Uhaul rental vehicles. Wardlaw was also indicted for conspiracy to cause and permit the disposal of litter for commercial purposes.

The penalty for commercial littering is up to five years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. The penalty for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

By law, scrap tires must be collected and disposed of only at licensed facilities, which charge a fee for the disposal of tires. Those who haul scrap tires must also be licensed by the state. Tire stores and other commercial establishments that accumulate scrap tires must keep records showing where their scrap tires are shipped, the number of tires and the identity of the licensed hauler.

All defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.