Former Ceo Of New London Manufacturing Company Pleads Guilty To Violating Clean Water Act
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, John K. Gauthier, Acting Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division for New England, and Commissioner Robert Klee of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced that THOMAS H. FARIA, 37, the former chief executive officer and president of Faria Limited, LLC, doing business as Sheffield Pharmaceuticals, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act. As a condition of his guilty plea, FARIA resigned from the company on March 7, 2014, and shall have no role in the operations or management of Faria Limited.
“Any CEO operating a factory in Connecticut who ignores federal and state environmental laws risks not only significant fines, but also a jail sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “The Clean Water Act applies to every industrial entity doing business in Connecticut. For at least seven years, Thomas Faria knowingly violated the law by directing his employees to discharge industrial wastewater into the public sewage system without a permit, and without monitoring the chemical levels of the discharge. He pursued this illegal course over the objection of a manager who urged him in writing to bring the company into compliance with the law. This Office will vigorously prosecute corporate officers whose decisions and actions, in the name of corporate profits, threaten Connecticut’s natural resources and harm the public’s right to a clean environment. We recognize and thank the EPA for their invaluable work in protecting the environmental integrity of Connecticut’s rivers and the Long Island Sound.”
“Blatant disregard for our environmental laws occurs whenever greed and poor judgment intersect,” said Acting Special in Charge Gauthier. “EPA, along with the Department of Justice and our federal and state partners, work tirelessly to protect New England’s natural resources and to ensure that there are serious repercussions for decisions like those of Thomas Faria.”
“Connecticut’s laws and regulations concerning the handling of industrial discharges are designed to protect public health and natural resources,” said Commissioner Klee. “Mr. Faria’s blatant disregard for those requirements stands in sharp contrast to the majority of business leaders in our state who understand that respect for and compliance with environmental rules is consistent with growth and a strong bottom line. The no nonsense handling of this case by the U.S. Attorney’s office sends a strong signal to all businesses that it clearly pays to ‘do the right thing’ at all times when it comes to our environment.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, the Clean Water Act requires that every company obtain a permit from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“CT DEEP”) before it can discharge its industrial wastewater to the public sewage system, commonly known as the publicly owned treatment works (“POTW”). Companies are also required, among other things, to test and monitor their industrial wastewater monthly to ensure that the chemical levels in the wastewater do not exceed federal and state limitations.
Sheffield Pharmaceuticals (“Sheffield”) has a factory at 170 Broad Street in New London that manufactures a wide range of over-the-counter pharmaceutical creams, ointments and toothpastes. From approximately 1986 to July 2011, Sheffield discharged industrial wastewater from its New London manufacturing operations to the New London POTW without a permit and in violation of Connecticut’s approved pretreatment program. The New London POTW discharges to the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut. During this entire time period, Sheffield lacked a pretreatment system at its factory to treat its industrial wastewater prior to discharge to the New London POTW, performed no regular monitoring of its discharges of industrial wastewater, and submitted no monthly monitoring reports to the CT DEEP.
After becoming the company’s president and chief executive officer in April 2003, FARIA soon learned through his own employees that Sheffield was discharging pollutants, including the toxic metal zinc, in its industrial wastewater without the required permit. FARIA also learned that in order to obtain a permit from CT DEEP, the company would have to install, at significant expense, a wastewater pretreatment system that would pretreat its industrial wastewater prior to discharging it to the New London POTW. Although FARIA’s own employees urged him to make the financial investment to bring the company into compliance, FARIA chose not to do so. FARIA continued this illegal course even when four environmental consulting firms, which the company had hired, advised him that the discharge of industrial wastewater to the public sewage treatment system, without a pretreatment system and CT DEEP permit, is illegal.
On April 20, 2011, the CT DEEP conducted an unannounced inspection of Sheffield. After finding that the company had no wastewater discharge permits, the CT DEEP inspector issued a Notice of Violation and cited the company for discharging manufacturing and laboratory wastewater without a permit. On or about May 27, 2011, Faria Limited, LLC submitted a permit application to CT DEEP so that the company could legally discharge industrial wastewater from its New London facility into the New London POTW.
By July 2011, the company had installed a wastewater pretreatment system at its factory to pretreat the pollutants contained in its industrial wastewater prior to its discharge to the New London POTW.
FARIA pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly violating, or causing to be violated, the Clean Water Act, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment and a fine of not less than $5,000 but not more than $50,000 per day of the violation. Judge Thompson scheduled sentencing for October 6, 2014.
This matter has been investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Kenyon.
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