Crisfield Man Convicted and Sentenced for Polluting a Chesapeake Bay Tributary with an Abandoned Boat
Dilapidated vessel was illegally docked when it broke away from moorings
Baltimore, MD ( June 20, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that Gregory Sterling, 56, of Crisfield, was convicted of polluting state waters by abandoning a dilapidated and sinking boat in the Little Annemessex River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Sterling pleaded guilty to the charge and Somerset County District Court Judge Paula Price sentenced the defendant to 45 days in jail.
"Abandoned boats not only present a danger to others, they pollute rivers, streams and ultimately in this case, the Chesapeake Bay," said Attorney General Gansler. "We should all do what we can to protect and improve our precious state waters and that includes obeying laws and regulations designed to prevent pollution."
According to the investigation, a waterfront property homeowner on Wellington Road in Crisfield reported to the Natural Resources Police (NRP) that a boat had been tied up at his dock without his permission. Upon interviewing other persons normally in the area, investigators determined that Sterling was the person who had left the 21-foot Bayliner cabin cruiser tied up at the dock. The boat was in poor condition and without a motor while flooding and about to sink.
When interviewed, Sterling admitted placing the boat at that dock. Claiming that he had an ownership right in the dock and was asserting his right to use it, he refused to remove the boat. In a civil proceeding, a Circuit Court judge denied the defendant's claim of ownership. The boat subsequently came away from its moorings at the dock and proceeded to sink. NRP officers indicated that the boat was in a state of disrepair and in a position that constituted a hazard or obstruction to the cove where it was located.
The Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Unit handled this case at the request of the State's Attorney for Somerset County. Attorney General Gansler thanked the Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Police as well as Assistant Attorney General Michelle Barnes for their work on this case.