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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Mora Development Sentenced To Pay A Fine Of $3 Million For Violation Of The Clean Water Act

SAN JUAN, PR – Today United States District Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo sentenced MORA Development to pay a fine of $3 million, serve a five-year term of probation and make restitution to a family whose children were affected by the criminal conduct. Judge Cerezo ordered that Mr. Cleofe Rubi-Gonzalez personally guarantee payment of all financial obligations imposed on the company.

Mora Development Corporation previously pled guilty to a one-count Information charging a violation of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. Section 1311 and 1319 (c) (2) for discharging the sanitary wastewater generated from residences at Las Cascadas II Development in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico from a holding tank through a point source (a by-pass pipe) into the Toa Alta Municipal storm water system and then into Quilan Creek which flows into La Plata River, a water of the United States without a National Pollution Elimination System (NPDS) permit. La Plata River serves approximately 80,000 people in Puerto Rico.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to enforce federal laws which protect the environment and the public,” said Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez, US Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Today’s sentence should serve as a deterrent to those who consider discharging waste water into our creeks. Our office will continue to work with all law enforcement agencies in order to help prevent release of hazardous material into our creeks, protect workers and the local community.”

“Mora Development Corporation knowingly cut corners to save money by discharging raw sewage into the La Plata River without proper treatment in violation of the Clean Water Act,” said Tyler Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of Criminal Investigation Division for EPA’s Region 2 Office in New York. “The scheme to hide an illegal sewage system is a short-sighted business decision that put the community’s health and environment at risk. EPA will continue to work directly with our Commonwealth partners to investigate and seek prosecution of environmental crime offenders.”

The government presented evidence that over the course of the time prior to properly connecting with PRASA, MORA discharged more than 29,000,000 gallons of sewage into the municipal stormwater system and into Quilan Creek.

The former Project Manager, Jose Merino had also pled guilty previously and was sentenced to 6 months’ probation.

The case was prosecuted by the Howard P. Stewart Senior Litigation Counsel of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice, and Assistant United States Attorney Carmen Marquez of the United States Attorney’s Office. The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Criminal Investigation Division.

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Topic(s): 
Environment
Component(s): 
Updated August 2, 2018