August 5, 2005
UNLICENSED WELL DRILLER WHO APPEALED CONVICTIONS
IS CONVICTED AGAIN BY JURY
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
Court Judge in April.
In March 2004, homeowners in Crownsville, Maryland hired Mr.
Branham to drill a well on their property. After Branham began
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
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
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 Branham whose license to drill wells was revoked in 1999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
penalty for subsequent offenders for practicing well drilling
without a license is one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. The
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
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.