AG Gansler Secures Guilty Plea Against Contracting Company Employee
Runoff of dumped soil, solid waste likely would have polluted Patuxent River tributary
Baltimore, MD ( Nov. 15, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that Gilbert W. Francis, 55, of Temple Hills, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Calvert County to unlawfully placing soil and sediment in a location where it is likely to be washed into waters of the State. Judge Warren J. Krug sentenced Francis to a 30-day suspended sentence and imposed a $500 fine. Francis was also placed on probation for one year and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.
"Preserving our state's troubled waterways becomes even more challenging when individuals recklessly add to the problem," said Attorney General Gansler. "This irresponsible action demonstrates the importance of enforcing laws designed to protect the environment."
The Calvert County Department of Planning and Zoning discovered the unlawful activity upon responding to an illegal dumping complaint. It was referred to the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Office of the Attorney General.
Truckloads of solid waste consisting of construction and demolition debris, mattresses, pipes, toilet fixtures and other debris had been dumped on the property on Yellow Bank Road in Dunkirk. Francis, an employee of Hyattsville-based American Contractors, Inc., was observed operating a skid loader on the property. The solid waste and soil was dumped on an extremely steep slope leading to a stream below that is a tributary of the Patuxent River. The property owner's son had responded to an ad on Craigslist for free fill dirt and had contacted Francis' employer to deliver dirt to the property, which his mother owns.
Attorney General Gansler thanked Assistant Attorney General Jay Robinson and Chief Investigator David Williams for their hard work on the case. The misdemeanor conviction follows an investigation conducted by the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Office of the Attorney General with the assistance of Calvert County Department of Planning and Zoning and the Maryland Department of the Environment.
In a separate but related case, Francis' employer, American Contractors, Inc., also pleaded guilty to unlawfully disposing solid waste and performing construction without obtaining an approved Sediment Control Plan. The company was ordered to pay $14,290 in restitution to the property owner for the cost of cleaning up the dumped waste, imposed a fine of $30,000 with all but $10,000 suspended, and placed on five years probation.