AG Gansler Secures Guilty Plea from Prince George's County Trash Hauler
Eze Trash Company dumped trash illegally, handled solid waste removal without permits and deceived customers
Baltimore, MD (February 23, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that Eze Trash Company, and its owner/operator Celestine Ugonna Eze, have pled guilty to multiple violations stemming from the illegal operation of a solid waste removal business. Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge Michael Whalen sentenced Eze to five years incarceration, all of which was suspended. Eze, 52, of Upper Marlboro was also fined $20,000 (all but $5,000 was suspended), ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and was placed on three years probation. Under separate charges, Eze Trash Company was fined $51,000 (all but $15,000 was suspended), placed on five years probation and ordered to remove all false representations from its website.
"This company did business without regard for the health and safety of the community it claims to serve," said Attorney General Gansler. "If not handled properly, solid waste can contaminate our drinking water, pollute the air we breathe and become a breeding ground for rats and other animals that spread disease. No community deserves that."
Celestine Eze's company pled guilty to Operating a Refuse Disposal System without a permit, Operating a Solid Waste Transfer Station without a permit and Engaging in Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices by providing false information on its website. Eze pled guilty to commercial littering.
The charges stemmed from an investigation that began on June 30, 2010 when Price George's County police observed a large trash dumping in the 9900 block of Fallard Ct. in Upper Marlboro, near Andrews Air Force Base. Investigators connected the solid waste to a home renovation project in Upper Marlboro and a dumpster rented from the Eze Trash Company.
The Office of Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Unit was contacted and further investigation was done cooperatively between the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Prince George's County Police Department.
OAG investigators and an inspector from the Maryland Department of the Environment visited the company's leased property on Foxley Road and found a truck and a dozen dumpsters filled with solid waste, marked as Eze Trash Removal, as well as numerous piles of solid waste on the ground. All of the debris found on the site, which included significant amounts of construction and demolition materials, are regulated by the state. Eze Trash Company had no permits for operating a refuse disposal system or a solid waste transfer station as required by law.
The State regulates refuse and solid waste systems because of potential health and safety hazards found with unpermitted facilities. They include the likely presence of pollutants, concerns that pollutants and possible hazardous substances leach into the groundwater, the possibility of fires and unauthorized burnings that release pollutants into the air and the risk of rodent infestation
OAG investigators found that the website of Eze Trash Company contained lengthy presentations under the heading "waste to energy production plant" and referred to "expert staff" and the ability to design facilities that convert waste to energy. All of these representations were false.
In announcing the guilty pleas, Attorney General Gansler thanked Environmental Crimes Unit Chief Michelle Barnes and Chief Investigator David Williams for their hard work on the case, as well as the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Prince George's County Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.