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

January 15, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that William Anthony Wheatley, 49, of the 5700 block of Richardson Road, in Cambridge, has been convicted of open burning in the District Court of Maryland for Dorchester County. Wheatley, who entered a guilty plea, was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which was suspended, and the defendant was placed on two years of probation. Wheatley was also ordered by Judge John L. Norton, III to pay a $10,000 fine to the Maryland Clean Air Fund as part of his sentence. Wheatley could have received a year in prison and/or a fine of $25,000 for the conviction.

William Wheatley, who operates Wheatley Brothers Trucking, acknowledged in his plea that he obtained a contract to demolish the Shoal's motel on U.S. Route 50 in Cambridge. Instead of taking the debris to a licensed rubble fill as required by law, Wheatley instead transported it to property he owned on Richardson Road in the Cambridge area of Dorchester County, where he burned it. On October 24, 2000, the Dorchester County Department of Planning and Zoning received several complaints about a large open burn that was occurring on the Wheatley's Richardson Road property. When an inspector for the Department visited the site he observed a large pile of demolition debris being burned around an excavated area that had been filled with water. The burning materials included wood, metal pipes, wiring, roofing shingles, room air conditioners, floor tiles, and plumbing fixtures. The inspector issued a Dorchester County "Stop Work Order".

When Maryland Department of the Environment inspectors visited the Wheatley property on Richardson Road the next day, they observed a smoldering fire containing the same type of materials they had seen the afternoon before. Maryland law requires that demolition debris be taken to a licensed landfill or rubble fill for disposal and prohibits the disposal of demolition debris by burning, or by placing or burying it on private property.

This conviction follows 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 the Environment and the Dorchester County Department of Planning and Zoning.