St. Lawrence County Man Sentenced for Clean Water Act Crimes
Michael J. Ward Falsified Data and Caused the Discharge of Polluted Water from a Paper Mill in Norfolk, New York
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK - Michael J. Ward, age 54, of Gouverneur, New York, was sentenced today in federal court in Binghamton to serve a 3 year term of probation, perform 200 hours of community service, and pay a $1,000 fine, after previously pleading guilty to three felony counts of violating the Clean Water Act, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith, Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) in New York, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggios and Joseph Schneider, DEC Director of Law Enforcement.
In previously pleading guilty, Ward admitted that between January 2013 and September 2015, while employed as the Technical Director in charge of environmental compliance at the APC Paper Group paper mill in Norfolk, New York, he caused the paper mill to violate its Clean Water Act permit by discharging wastewater containing excessive levels of biochemical oxygen demand (“BOD”) into the Raquette River. BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen necessary for microorganisms in the water to break down organic material. BOD levels also provide an index for measuring the effect discharged wastewater will have on the body of fresh water receiving it. In this case, the paper mill’s Clean Water Act permit restricted the amount of BOD that could be discharged through wastewater.
As part of his guilty plea, Ward admitted that he concealed and falsified data regarding the BOD levels in the mill’s wastewater discharges, thus allowing the mill to violate its Clean Water Act permit on a regular basis. Additionally, he repeatedly falsified monthly reports to the DEC to hide the continuing Clean Water Act violations. The defendant’s illegal conduct was discovered after APC Paper Group terminated his employment for unrelated reasons in the fall of 2015.
This case was investigated by the United States EPA-CID and the New York State DEC, Division of Law Enforcement and Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation Unit (BECI), and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry.