August 16, 2005
UNLICENSED WELL DRILLER SENTENCED TO SERVE 90 DAYS
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that John
E. Branham, 72, of Port Republic, Maryland, was sentenced by the
Honorable Paul A. Hackner to six months in jail for well drilling
without a license and drilling a well without a permit. Judge Hackner
suspended all but 90 days of the sentence, suspended a $1000 fine,
and ordered the Defendant to pay $4080 restitution to the homeowners
who had hired him to drill a well. Judge Hackner also placed the
Defendant on five years of supervised probation. During the period
of probation the Defendant is forbidden from being at any well
drilling site unless a licensed well driller is present.
The Defendant is the owner and operator of Branham Contracting,
Inc. He has been in the well drilling business since 1968. From
July 1981 through June 1984, the Defendant served as a member of
the State Board of Well Drillers, the licensing authority for well
drillers in Maryland. After the Defendant violated numerous well
drilling regulations, however, his license to drill wells was suspended
by the State in 1999. Moreover, after losing his license, Defendant
was criminally convicted of violating well drilling laws.
This sentence came after a 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.
The maximum penalty for subsequent offenders for practicing well
drilling without a license and for well drilling without a permit
is one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
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.