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

May 29, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today the conviction of Stephen Nicholson, of the 2100 block of East North Avenue, in Baltimore on charges arising from the Attorney General's initiative to combat illegal tire dumping in Baltimore City. Nicholson, 34, was convicted by a jury of causing or permitting litter on or at the 1900 block of N. Chester Street and 4500 block of E. Lombard Street in March and April 2000. The jury hung on two counts: causing or permitting the dumping of litter on or at the 1600 block of Gay Street for commercial purposes in January 2000; and conspiracy with Walter Wardlaw to cause or permit the dumping of litter.

Nicholson is the owner and operator of Tiremasters, a tire dealership on North Avenue in Baltimore. The charges were the result of Nicholson hiring others to dump tires at different locations in East Baltimore in January, March and April of last year. The convictions came after a three-day trial in front of Judge Allen L Schwait of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. Nicholson's sentencing has been set for August 27, 2001 before Judge Schwait. Nicholson is the fourth individual convicted as part of the initiative. He is the first tire store operator to be convicted criminally of tire dumping charges. He faces up to five years in jail and/or a $25,000 fine on each count.

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. Unlicensed haulers have been collecting tires from commercial establishments and dumping them on city and privately-owned properties in Baltimore.

"Operation Tire Track" was developed by Attorney General Curran last year and is enforced by the Office of the Attorney Generalís Environmental Crimes Unit, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, with assistance from the Baltimore City Police Department, the Maryland State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigations Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Not only are we targeting those who physically dump the tires, but those store operators responsible for creating the problem as well," Attorney General Curran said. "Nicholson knowingly hired Unlicensed haulers for such low fees that it clearly indicated he knew the haulers would have to dispose of them illegally."