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


October 31, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

VIRGINIA MAN SENTENCED FOR WATER POLLUTION

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today the sentencing of Abdul Rahman Rahimi, 38, of the 6400 block of Lake Meadow Drive in Burke, Virginia, for discharging oil into waters of the State of Maryland. Citing the lack of any prior criminal involvement, Retired Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge William Miller granted the defendant probation before judgment, ordered Rahimi to pay a $5,000 fine and placed him on six months probation. Rahimi, by law, must also pay all clean-up costs. The sentencing followed a trial in which Rahimi was found guilty of violating Marylandís water pollution laws on September 29, 2000 by illegally discharging fuel oil into waters along the Montgomery County and Prince George's County border in Takoma Park.

Rahimi is the manager of a clothing store called the Fashion Warehouse located at 6822 New Hampshire Ave. As the result of heavy rain several days earlier, the store's basement flooded and four unused heating oil tanks were upended as a result, spilling fuel oil into the basement. Rahimi attached a garden hose to a sump pump and pumped the oil out into the store's lot and into a storm drain. Storm drains are considered waters of the state and it is illegal to allow oil or any other pollutant to flow into any waters of the state. The testimony at trial showed the storm drain leads through several ditches and culverts before entering the Anacostia River in Prince George's County. The Prince George's County Fire Department, the Montgomery County Fire Department, the Maryland Department of the Environment's Emergency Response Division and a remediation contractor used absorbents and booms to recover fuel oil from the drainage systems of the two counties.

"In this case the original spill may have been accidental, but once a business owner discovers a spill he is obligated to recover and properly dispose of the spilled oil," Attorney General Curran said. "Mr. Rahimi irresponsibly chose to pump the oil into the storm drainage system, putting the entire community at risk."

The maximum penalty for the illegal discharge of oil into waters of the state is one year in prison and/or a fine up to $50,000.

These charges follow a joint investigation conducted by the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Office of the Attorney General and the Maryland State Police with the assistance of the Maryland Department of Environment's Emergency Response Division and the Montgomery County Fire Department.

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