News and Press Releases

"Sentence Imposed For Criminal Violations Of The Clean Water Act"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2012

Spokane – Today, Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that James L. Christian, age 54, of Walla Walla, Washington and Smith Chrome Plating, Inc., an incorporated business located in Walla Walla, Washington, were sentenced for criminal violations of the Clean Water Act. The Honorable Fred Van Sickle sentenced Defendant Christian to a five-year term of probation, subject to a four-month term of home confinement and 200 hours of community service. Judge Van Sickle also sentenced Defendant Smith Chrome Plating, Inc., to a five-year term of probation and imposed a fine of $15,000 to be paid in installments.

Prior to sentencing, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States, Defendant Christian entered guilty pleas to one felony Clean Water Act offense -- Clean Water Act False Statements -- and to one misdemeanor Clean Water Act offense -- Violation of a Requirement of a Pretreatment Program. Prior to sentencing, Defendant Smith Chrome also entered a guilty plea pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States to one misdemeanor Clean Water Act offense -- Violation of a Requirement of a Pretreatment Program. These offenses relate to violations of a State Waste Discharge Permit issued by the Washington Department of Ecology under the Clean Water Act to Smith Chrome, Inc. from December 2009 through April 2010.

The State Waste Discharge Permit issued to Smith Chrome was intended to ensure the company's compliance with relevant requirements of the Clean Water Act as an industrial user of the City of Walla Walla's wastewater treatment plant, a publicly owned treatment works. The State Waste Water Discharge Permit required monitoring, sampling, and recordkeeping and also set forth specific discharge limits for certain pollutants. Pursuant to that permit, Smith Chrome was required to submit a monthly discharge monitoring report setting forth the details of the company's discharges for the previous month. Christian was responsible for the day-to-day operations of Smith Chrome's business.

From December 2009 through April 2010, Christian stated on monthly discharge monitoring reports that the company had "zero discharge" at its facility for those months. Christian signed the monthly discharge monitoring reports at issue. He subsequently admitted, however, that the reports during December 2009 through April 2010 where he indicated "zero discharge" were false, that discharges were in fact made during those months, and that Smith Chrome and Christian failed to monitor those discharges, failed to sample, and failed to keep any records or report the discharges, all in violation of Smith Chrome's State Waste Discharge Permit.

Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said, "the United States Attorney's Office and the Environmental Protection Agency are committed to investigating and prosecuting violations of the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws that occur anywhere in the Eastern District of Washington."

This investigation was conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division. This case was prosecuted by James A. Goeke, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

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