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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Georgia Man Sentenced To 10 Months In Prison For Discharging Waste Into Potomac River- Defendant Managed Clean-Up Of Storm Sewer System At National Mall -

     WASHINGTON - Patrick Brightwell, 48, of Bogart, Ga., was sentenced today to 10 months in prison on charges that he orchestrated the discharge of waste into the Potomac River at East Potomac Park from 2009 through 2011, during the same period he managed the company hired by the National Park Service to clean out the storm water sewer system on the National Mall.

     The sentence was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Sam Hirsch of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, David G. McLeod, Jr. Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program for the Middle Atlantic States, and Robert D. MacLean, Acting Chief, United States Park Police.

     Brightwell pled guilty in June 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to one count of violating the Clean Water Act by knowingly discharging a pollutant without a permit and one count of presenting false claims to the United States. He was sentenced by the Honorable James E. Boasberg. Upon completion of his prison term, Brightwell will be placed on three years of supervised release. He also was ordered to pay $270,667 in restitution to the National Park Service, representing the losses for the work that was not properly performed. Brightwell also must pay a forfeiture money judgment totaling $230,899.

     An eight-count indictment of Brightwell was unsealed following his arrest in Georgia on Dec. 5, 2013. The remaining charges were dismissed as part of the guilty plea.

     “This government contractor is now paying the price for ripping off the taxpayer and dumping waste in the Potomac River,” said U.S. Attorney Machen.  “This prison sentence demonstrates how serious we are about enforcing the Clean Water Act.  We will continue to use the criminal laws to protect our country’s most treasured natural resources.” 

     “The Potomac is a national treasure, and EPA is committed to keeping it safe and clean” said Special Agent in Charge McLeod. “The defendant knowingly dumped untreated wastewater into this historic waterway, and needs to be held accountable. Wastewater that is illegally discharged is a danger to public health and a threat to the environment.”

     “The sentence in this case shall serve as a reminder that environmental crimes will not be tolerated by the National Park Service, law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and the community," said Acting Chief MacLean. “I applaud the collaborative efforts of every agency involved as a testament to the inherent dedication to protecting our nation's natural resources.”

     According to a statement of offense signed by the government and defendant, from in or about 2007 through 2011, Brightwell was a manager of a company that had a contract with the National Park Service to clean the storm water sewer system on the National Mall.  The contract required that waste removed from the Mall’s storm drains and oil-water separators be disposed of at a proper disposal facility in compliance with District of Columbia regulations and federal law. 

     Brightwell hired employees and subcontractors to perform work under the contract and oversaw their work from 2008 to 2011. To clean the structures, Brightwell and his company used a vacuum truck, a vehicle designed to gather, store, and transport such waste. When the storage compartment in the vacuum truck became full, workers would have to discharge waste from the truck prior to continuing the cleaning.

     In 2009, 2010, and 2011, according to the statement of offense, Brightwell directed his employees and subcontractors to discharge waste from the vacuum truck at a storm drain near a parking lot in East Potomac Park, across Ohio Drive from the Potomac River. Brightwell concealed these discharges from the National Park Service and police. Workers also discharged waste at a manhole near Fort McNair in the District of Columbia.

     During this period, Brightwell continued to invoice the National Park Service for cleaning services, but concealed and did not disclose that the waste was not being properly disposed, as required by the contract.  From 2009 through 2011, Brightwell’s company received approximately $406,000 in payments from the National Park Service related to the contract.

     According to the statement of offense, the employees and subcontractors illegally dumped waste at the parking lot approximately two-thirds of the time, and dumped the waste at a proper disposal facility in Fort Washington, Md., about one-third of the time.

     The subcontractor, B&P Environmental LLC, and a B&P employee working on June 6, 2011, both pled guilty in November 2014 to violations of the Clean Water Act before the U.S. District Court.  As part of their pleas, both the company and employee agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation.  Both the company and employee are awaiting sentencing.

     The case was investigated by Special Agent S. Christopher Michael of the EPA and Detective Jon Crichfield of the U.S. Park Police and supported by Environmental Protection Specialists Jerry Crutchley and Justin Young.  It was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Lana Pettus of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Hooks of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Saler and Catherine Connelly of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section assisted with the case.  Further assistance was provided by Paralegal Specialist Ashleigh Nye of DOJ’s Environmental Crimes Section and Paralegal Specialists Krishawn Graham and Donna Galindo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Updated February 19, 2015