Enforcement

Summary of Criminal Prosecutions

Search Criminal Prosecution

FISCAL YEAR: 2011
1. PRINCIPAL DEFENDANT: LWC Management, Inc.
W.D.  Louisiana  09-00112
2. DEFENDANT: John Jeffrey (Jeff) Pruett
W.D.  Louisiana  09-00112
3. DEFENDANT: Louisiana Land and Water Company
W.D.  Louisiana  09-00112
Pruett was Chief Executive Officer of LWC Management Company, Inc. (LWC) and Principal Officer of Louisiana Land & Water Company (LLWC) and was responsible for overseeing the operations and finances of both companies. Testimony during the federal trial showed that beginning in April 1999, Pruett and his companies provided sewer and wastewater treatment plant services to the Bayou Galion, Charmingdale Estates, Daywood and Donovan Woods, Love Estates, and Pine Bayou subdivisions of Monroe, La. Homeowners in the Monroe subdivisions were required to pay a fee for sewage and wastewater treatment plant services based on rates set by the Louisiana Public Service Commission.

Facilities that discharge effluent from wastewater treatment plants are required to obtain state discharge permits, in this case, from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. These permits required LLWC and LWC to properly operate and maintain sewage systems and wastewater treatment and control facilities and provide adequate staff qualified to ensure that the company complied with pollutant limits. The state received numerous customer complaints about sewage backups at residences and cloudy, tainted water coming out of the taps. The state also received complaints about sewage discharges into roadside ditches near residences and improper termination of residents’ sewage and water services.

May 29, 2009
The defendants were indicted on 17 counts of the CWA {33 U.S.C. 1319(c)(1)(A) - knowingly violates and 33 U.S.C. 1319(c)(2)(A) - negligently violates}. The violations include failure to provide proper operation and maintenance of the facilities, illegal discharges and failure to maintain records in relation to 6 separate wastewater treatment plants.

The Government, later, motioned the Court, and the Court ordered, that 3 counts, which charged all 3 defendants, be dropped from the indictment.
CITATION: 33 U.S.C. 1319(c)(1)(A), 33 U.S.C. 1319(c)(2)(a)
January 25, 2011
Pruett was found guilty of 8 counts; Louisiana Land and Water Company {LLWC} was found guilty of 7 counts; and LWC was found guilty of one count.

The defendants were found not guilty on all other counts.


Press Release
Western District of Louisiana
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2011

OWNER AND OPERATOR OF WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITIES CONVICTED OF CLEAN WATER ACT VIOLATIONS

Charges a Result of Sewerage Problems for Residents of Monroe, La.

Monroe, Louisiana: J. Jeffrey Pruett, 58, of West Monroe, Louisiana, has been convicted by a federal jury in Monroe, Louisiana, of violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act, United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today.

Pruett was Chief Executive Officer of LWC Management Company, Inc. (“LWC”), and Principal Officer of Louisiana Land & Water Company (“LLWC”), and was responsible for overseeing the operations and finances of both companies. Testimony during the trial showed that beginning in April 1999, Pruett and his companies provided sewer services to the Bayou Galion Subdivision, the Charmingdale Estates Subdivision, the Daywood and Donovan Woods Subdivision, the Love Estates Subdivision, and the Pine Bayou Subdivision (“Subdivisions”). Homeowners in these subdivisions were required to pay a fee for the sewerage service based upon rates set by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (“LPSC”). LWC and LLWC owned and operated wastewater treatment plants for the Subdivisions.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality(“LDEQ”) was authorized to administer and enforce the Clean Water Act requirements in the Subdivisions. Facilities that discharged effluent from wastewater treatment plants were required to obtain state discharge permits and the Subdivisions were subject to the conditions set by those state permits. The permits required the Subdivisions to properly operate and maintain all facilities and systems of treatment and control and related appurtenances, provide adequate staff qualified to ensure that was done and ensure that the company complied with the amount and concentration limitations of pollutants that could be discharged to the waters of the United States. Testimony at trial further revealed that Pruett, LLWC and LWC knowingly violated the permit conditions for the Subdivisions.

Pruett and LLWC were found guilty of six felony violations of failure to maintain and provide records pertaining to all of the above-name Subdivisions. Pruett and LLWC were found guilt of one felony count of effluent violations pertaining to Love Estates Subdivision. Pruett was additionally found guilty of a misdemeanor/negligent count of failure provide proper operation and maintenance pertaining to the Pine Bayou Subdivision. The defendants were acquitted on the remaining counts.

Pruett is scheduled for sentencing on May 9, 2011. The maximum penalty for each felony violation is a term of imprisonment not more than 3 years, and a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $50,000, per day of violation, or both. The maximum sentence for the misdemeanor violation is a term of imprisonment of up to one year, and a fine of not less than $2,500 and not more than $25,000, per day of violation, or both.

United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley stated, “This conviction should send a message to individuals and companies alike that a disregard for the laws designed to protect the environment and the citizens of this community will not be tolerated. Our office is committed to prosecuting these types of cases.”

Ivan J. Rikin, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, added: “What made this situation even worse is that the people most affected by the defendant’s actions are among those least able to fight them. Today’s jury conviction should send a clear message to other potential violators: noncompliance with the law will be prosecuted.”

June 8, 2011
Pruett was sentenced to 21 months incarceration for the felony counts and 12 months probation for the misdemeanor count.

Pruett/LLWC/LWC were ordered to pay a criminal fine of $310,000, which is to be paid jointly and severally by each defendant.

Read more in the EPA Press Release.

June 8, 2011
Legal Counsel for J. Jeffery Pruett, LLWC and LWC filed a Notice of Appeal in reference to the final judgment rendered in the case.
STATUTE:
  • Clean Water Act (CWA)

Top of page