Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2005
WWW.USDOJ.GOV
ENRD (202) 514-2007
USAO (313) 226-9100
TDD (202) 514-1888

VICE PRESIDENT OF DETROIT HAZARDOUS WASTE FIRM SENTENCED TO 27 MONTHS IMPRISONMENT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy, III announced today that Gazi George, former Vice President of the City Environmental facility in Detroit, formerly owned by Texas-based U.S. Liquids, Inc., was sentenced today to 27 months imprisonment and a fine of $60,000, after pleading guilty to felony violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). George's plea was entered on September 24, 2004, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The August 21, 2003, indictment charged George, 53, and facility operations manager Donald Roeser, 49, with conspiracy to violate the CWA, conspiracy to violate the RCRA, violating the CWA by bypassing treatment and tampering with a monitoring device, and violating the RCRA by causing the transportation of hazardous waste to unpermitted facilities and making false statements. In December, 2004, Roeser was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and a fine of $60,000.

City Environmental was a waste treatment facility located at 1923 Frederick Street in Detroit, Michigan. It was in the business of receiving, treating, hauling and disposing of liquid and solid hazardous and non-hazardous waste. City Environmental was authorized to introduce pollutants to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) system pursuant to a permit that the DWSD issued to the facility. City Environmental's permit set forth limits on the types and concentrations of pollutants that the company could discharge. The permit also required that City Environmental regularly take samples of its effluent to determine whether the facility was in compliance with permit requirements. In order to comply with permit discharge requirements, City Environmental was required to treat much of the wastewater before discharging it into the sanitary sewer.

During the period from September 1998 until August 1999, as a result of the defendantís conduct, millions of gallons of untreated waste went into the sewers of Detroit, and from there to the Detroit DWSD and to the Detroit River. The conduct also resulted in thousands of tons of hazardous waste being sent to a landfill that was not designed to handle hazardous waste.

"The sentence imposed on Gazi George sends a strong message that intentional violation of environmental laws enacted to protect public health and the environment will not be tolerated," said Assistant Attorney General Sansonetti.

"Dr. George's sentence serves as a reminder that those who intentionally violate our environmental laws do so at their peril. We will continue to do what we can to deter individuals and businesses from committing this type of crime," added U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy, III.

The case was investigated by the U.S. EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center, and was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division and the United States Attorney's Office in Detroit.

Southeast Michigan has a continuing Multi-Agency Environmental Crimes Task Force, which includes the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division; the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Criminal Investigations; the U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Environment Canada; Ontario Ministry of the Environment; the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division; the Michigan Attorney General's Office; and the U.S. Attorney's Office. Information concerning environmental crimes may be directed to 734-692-7650.

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