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Press Release

Georgetown Man Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Clean Water Act Violation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Maurice Avent, age 48, of Georgetown, pleaded guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act.  United States District Court Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks, of Charleston, accepted the plea and will sentence Avent after receiving and reviewing a pre-sentence report prepared by the United States Probation Office.  

Evidence presented at the hearing established that at the end of August 2018, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) received a complaint about raw sewage in the marsh behind a hotel in Georgetown.  A duty officer went to the hotel and observed a concrete pump station, also known as a wet well, with a black hose coming out of the top.  The hose was attached to a sump pump.  Raw sewage was inside the wet well.  The hose ran through the back parking lot, over a wooden fence, and into the marsh.  The sump pump was running at the time and was discharging sewage into the marsh. 

Maintenance man Maurice Avent was contacted and said that the two pumps that normally emptied the well had stopped working.  Those pumps routed sewage from the wet well into the city sewage system.  When a fix was not immediately available, Avent improvised.  He bought the sump pump and directed the hose into the marsh.  The hose had been in place for about a week, but the sump pump only activated when needed.

City and state government officials suggested to Avent that he put the hose into the city sewage opening, which is where the original pumps – when working – were routed, and he followed that suggestion.

The maximum penalty faced by Avent is imprisonment for one year, with a potential fine between $2,500 and $25,000 for each day of the violation.  

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the City of Georgetown investigated the case.  Assistant United States Attorneys Winston David Holliday, Jr., of the Columbia office, and Emily Evans Limehouse, of Charleston, are prosecuting the case.



Lance Crick (864) 282-2105

Updated September 13, 2019