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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Delaware Real Estate Developer Indicted For False Statements And Environmental Violations

WILMINGTON, Del. - David C. Weiss, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced that an Indictment has been handed down by a federal grand jury charging Joseph L. Capano, age 73, of Middletown, Delaware, with three counts of making false statements to federal authorities (18 United States Code §1001(a)), and charging Capano and Riverbend Community LLC, a Delaware Corporation, with conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act (18 United States Code §371). Defendant Capano faces up to 5 years of imprisonment for the false statement charges, 3 years of imprisonment on the Clean Water Act conspiracy, and a maximum of $250,000 fine for each offense.  Defendant Riverbend faces a fine of up to $500,000 for the Clean Water Act conspiracy. 

The Indictment alleges that Capano and Riverbend Community LLC conspired with others to discharge pollutants into wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction without a permit, during development of Riverbend at Old New Castle, a residential development located off of Delaware State Route 9 in New Castle, Delaware.  The Indictment focuses on earthmoving, construction and excavation activities that Capano, on behalf of Riverbend Community LLC, directed employees and contractors to perform on the entrance road to the development, known as the causeway.  Specifically, the defendants directed contractors and employees to expand the causeway into wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction.  The defendants also directed contractors and employees to place a water main pipe through the causeway wetlands area, even after the Army Corps of Engineers instructed the defendants to stop performing construction in wetland areas.

In addition, the Indictment alleges that Capano knowingly and willfully made multiple false statements to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding when the water main pipe was installed in the causeway wetland areas, including executing a false affidavit, and that he withheld maaterial information from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Construction activities in wetland areas have the potential to pollute our waters and damage our environment.  Before developers perform work in wetland areas, they must first seek a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.  When interacting with formal regulators regarding activities in wetland areas, developers must accurately describe the nature of their activities.  Those who fail to do so proceed at their peril.” said Acting United States Attorney David C. Weiss.
“Wetlands play a critical role in maintaining a healthy environment,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in the Middle Atlantic States.  “Once gone, it’s rare to see wetlands fully restored.  EPA and its law enforcement partners are working to protect these invaluable natural assets as well as the communities around them.”

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division Philadelphia Area Office.  The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer K. Welsh, District of Delaware.
The charges in the Indictment are only allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Updated July 14, 2015