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For Immediate Release
August 5, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

UNLICENSED WELL DRILLER WHO APPEALED CONVICTIONS IS CONVICTED AGAIN BY JURY

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that John E. Branham, 72, of Port Republic, Maryland, was convicted of well drilling without a license and drilling a well without a permit after a two-day jury trial in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. This trial was the result of an appeal by the Defendant of his convictions after a trial by a District Court Judge in April.

In March 2004, homeowners in Crownsville, Maryland hired Mr. Branham to drill a well on their property. After Branham began drilling the well, the homeowners inquired about the well drilling permit. When Branham could not present the permit, the home owners asked him to leave the property. After the homeowners called the Anne Arundel County Health Department to report the incident, they learned that Branham was not licensed to drill wells and that no permit had been obtained to drill a well on their property.

The Anne Arundel County Health Department and the Maryland Department of the Environment inspected the partially drilled well and determined that the Crownsville well was not drilled in accordance with state and local regulations. Maryland regulates well drilling to ensure the quality of wells and well water and to protect the public health from improperly constructed wells.

Mr. Branham whose license to drill wells was revoked in 1999 has previously been convicted of well drilling violations. The maximum penalty for subsequent offenders for practicing well drilling without a license is one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. The maximum penalty for subsequent offenders for well drilling without a permit is one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

The Honorable Paul A. Hackner scheduled sentencing for August 15, 2005. Although sentenced to six months in jail by a District Court Judge when convicted in April, Judge Hackner can impose any sentence deemed appropriate up to the maximums. Branham served two days of the District Court sentence prior to being released from jail on an appeal bond.

This case was prosecuted by the Environment Crimes Unit of the Attorney General’s Office, with the assistance of the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland State Police, and the Anne Arundel County Health Department.

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