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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Frederick County Mobile Home Park Owner to Pay Penalty and Operators Convicted for Illegal Sewage Disposal

BALTIMORE, MD ( September 29, 2009) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Environmental Crimes Unit has reached a final settlement with Dr. S. K. Singh, owner of Concord Mobile Home Park, L.P. in Frederick County, to resolve allegations of illegal disposal of sewage. The final settlement includes a $200,000 penalty and criminal convictions for the operator of the mobile home park’s wastewater treatment plant, Robert Phelps, as well as the mobile home park manager, April Phelps.

According to the terms of the settlement, Singh agreed to pay $175,000 to the Maryland Clean Water Fund and the remaining $25,000 to the Northeast Environmental Enforcement Project (NEEP) for training purposes. NEEP is a professional environmental association dedicated to providing regulatory and criminal agencies in the northeastern United States with training, information and support services.

Concord Mobile Home Park is owned by Dr. S.K. Singh and has approximately 60 mobile homes on the property. There is a private wastewater treatment plant that services the mobile homes. An investigation by the Environmental Crimes Unit revealed that untreated and raw sewage from domestic wastewater was being discharged from the mobile home park’s wastewater treatment facility into the tributary of Renn Branch. Although Robert Phelps was the only person who was supposed to perform regular testing on the wastewater treatment plant operations, he was actually never present. The investigation revealed that his wife, April Phelps, was actually inserting falsified numbers on the logs required to be kept and submitted to the Maryland Department of the Environment. Additionally, it was discovered that April Phelps was taking water samples from another location and representing them as coming from the Concord Mobile Home Park facility.

Inspectors from the Department of the Environment took actual samples from the waters and facility to compare to the numbers being recorded on the documentation provided by April Phelps. The results listed by April Phelps indicated clean and clear water with no violation of any sewage discharge, while the actual results taken by the inspector showed extremely high violations in all tested bacterial areas.


On February 11, 2009, both Robert Phelps and April Phelps entered guilty pleas in the Circuit Court for Frederick County. Robert Phelps pleaded guilty to four counts of discharge of pollutants, four counts of failure to keep records, make reports and provide information as required by the Maryland Department of the Environment, four counts of failure to report sewer overflows and one count of perjury. The Honorable Judge Julie Solt sentenced Robert Phelps to seven years in jail with all but 90 days suspended. He was also sentenced to four years probation and ordered to pay a fine of $3,000 to the Maryland Clean Water Fund, as well as complete 50 hours of community service. April Phelps pleaded guilty to eight counts of making false entries in a public record and one count of conspiracy to commit perjury. April Phelps was sentenced to five years in jail with all but 90 days suspended. April Phelps was also sentenced to four years probation, ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 to the Maryland Clean Water Fund, and must complete 100 hours of community service.

The Office of the Attorney General reminds all citizens to report violations of wastewater treatment to the Maryland Department of the Environment and/or the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Unit. Ensuring proper treatment of sewage wastewater is important to the health of the individuals in the area. Improperly treated sewage poses a number of health related dangers. Outbreaks of diseases in the United States such as typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, dysentery, and others have been directly linked to improperly treated sewage.

The Environmental Crimes Unit conducted this investigation in conjunction with the Maryland State Police and the Maryland Department of the Environment. In making today’s announcement, Attorney General Gansler thanked Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit, Michelle Barnes, for her work on the case.

   

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