FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC at 410-209-4885
January 11, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND TREATMENT PLANT SUPERINTENDENT AND PLANT ENGINEER INDICTED FOR MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS TO ARMY
BALTIMORE, Maryland - United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein announces that today a federal grand jury has indicted Robert Lee Shewell, age 59, Joppatown, Maryland and Joseph Edward Ambrozewicz, Jr., age 50, Bel Air, Maryland, for conspiring to falsely describe to the Army a January 14, 2001 spill of untreated, influent ground water at a ground water treatment facility at an Aberdeen Proving Ground Superfund site as a spill of treated, effluent water.
Old O-Field Groundwater Treatment Facility is a Superfund site of approximately 4.5 acres located at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in which the Army years ago disposed of chemical warfare agents, munitions, contaminated equipment and other hazardous waste. Ground water at the site is contaminated by the hazardous waste. Because of the proximity of the site to the Gunpowder River and the Chesapeake Bay, contaminated water would leach from the site into the Bay. In the mid-1990s the Army built the ground water treatment facility. Contaminated ground water is pumped from extraction wells to the treatment facility where it is treated. Clean water is stored and later discharged into the Gunpowder River.
According to the five-count indictment Shewell and Ambrozewicz, who were the plant superintendent and plant engineer, respectively, at the Old O-Field Groundwater Treatment Facility arrived at the facility on January 14, 2001 in response to a security guard finding water pouring over the edge of a containment pit at the facility and flowing down the road and into the marsh adjoining the Gunpowder River. At the time of the spill, the defendants were employed by Maryland Environmental Service which contracted with the Army to operate the facility. The indictment alleges that when Ambrozewicz and Shewell learned on January 14 that the spill was of influent, untreated water, they conspired to cover up that fact and instead, informed the Army that the spill was of effluent, treated water. The indictment alleges that the men: made false entries in a daily journal which the Army required the facility to maintain; replaced an unbroken valve on a tank storing treated water so they could claim that the valve had been broken and was the source of the leak; and falsified records to alter the levels of stored effluent water.
Defendants face a maximum sentence on each count of the indictment of five years imprisonment, and /or a $250,000 criminal fine. The defendants will be scheduled for an initial appearance and arraignment.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the investigative work performed by Department of the Army, Criminal Investigation Division, and Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joyce K. McDonald and Tamera Fine for prosecuting the case.