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FISCAL YEAR: 2013
1. PRINCIPAL DEFENDANT: Stowe Construction
W.D.  Washington  CR12 5121RBL
2. DEFENDANT: Bryan Stowe
W.D.  Washington  CR12 5121RBL
3. DEFENDANT: Timothy Michael Barger
W.D.  Washington  CR12 5567RBL


Bryan Stowe, acting on behalf of Stowe Construction, obtained coverage under the Construction Storm Water General Permit for the West Valley Highway site in October 2006. The permit required Stowe Construction to prepare and implement a plan to prevent the discharge of pollutants through use site improvements and practices designed to minimize and eliminate the migration of pollutants from the site to nearby waters. Stowe admits to failing to install adequate improvements and practices between 2007 and 2011. These failures led to significant discharges of pollutants from the site to adjacent wetlands and streams. In addition, weekly site inspection reports and discharge sampling reports intended to assist regulators in assessing the adequacy of site improvement and practices were falsified. State and federal regulators monitoring the West Valley Highway site issued several administrative compliance orders in an unsuccessful effort to bring Stowe and the company into compliance.

The permit violations contributed to two major landslides at the site in 2010 and 2011. Both slides forced closure of the West Valley Highway.

Stormwater has been recognized as one of the biggest threats to the health of Puget Sound. Rainwater runoff from developed properties and construction sites contribute a significant amount of pollutants to the wetlands, streams, and rivers that comprise watersheds feeding into Puget Sound. Runoff from construction sites in particular can compromise the essential filtering functions of wetlands if developers fail to implement and maintain required measures to minimize and prevent pollutants from leaving the site.



December 2, 2011
Barger was charged with making false statements, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.

CITATION: 33 USC 1319
December 23, 2011
Barger pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. 1001.

March 23, 2012
Stowe Construction and Byran Stowe were each charged with violating the CWA {33 U.S.C. 1319(c)(2)(A) - knowingly violates}.

CITATION: 33 U.S.C. 1319(c)(2)(A)
April 12, 2012
Stowe Construction and Bryan Stowe pled guilty to violating the CWA.


Press Release
Western District of Washington
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2012

Prominent Pierce County Developer Pleads Guilty To Criminal Violation Of Clean Water Act

Bryan Stowe and Stowe Construction Agree to $750,000 in Fines and Community Service Payments

A prominent Sumner, Washington developer and his construction company have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to felony violations of the Clean Water Act. The charges filed against BRYAN STOWE, 65, and STOWE CONSTRUCTION Inc., are the first storm water pollution criminal charges brought in Western Washington.

Under the terms of the plea agreements, STOWE and STOWE CONSTRUCTION will pay $650,000 in criminal fines and will make a $100,000 payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for environmental projects targeting resources impacted by the illegal discharges. STOWE could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. Both STOWE and the company will be subject to a court imposed storm water compliance plan for all current and future development sites.

In their plea agreements, the company and STOWE, as president and co-owner of the company, admit they knowingly violated the Construction General Storm Water Permit for the project known as the Rainier Park of Industry, located on West Valley Highway in Sumner, Washington. Permit violations contributed to two major landslides at the project site in the winter of 2011. Both slides forced closure of the West Valley Highway.

Stormwater has been recognized as one of the biggest threats to the health of Puget Sound. Rainwater runoff from developed properties and construction sites contribute a significant amount of pollutants to the wetlands, streams, and rivers that comprise watersheds feeding into Puget Sound. Runoff from construction sites in particular can compromise the essential filtering functions of wetlands if developers fail to implement and maintain required measures to minimize and prevent pollutants from leaving the site.

“In the face of all the political will and economic investment to restore the Puget Sound, this rogue developer knowingly, and repeatedly, chose profit over protection,” said Tyler Amon, acting Director of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Washington D.C. “For more than three years, Mr. Stowe and his construction company ignored the law, devastated salmon habitat and created nightmarish conditions for area drivers. This plea serves as notice to our regional developers ... these are serious environmental crimes that will be vigorously pursued.”

According to various records filed in the case, BRYAN STOWE, acting on behalf of STOWE CONSTRUCTION, obtained coverage under the Construction Storm Water General Permit for the West Valley Highway site in October 2006. The permit required STOWE CONSTRUCTION to prepare and implement a plan to prevent the discharge of pollutants through use site improvements and practices designed to minimize and eliminate the migration of pollutants from the site to nearby waters. STOWE admits in the plea agreement to failing to install adequate improvements and practices between 2007 and 2011.

These failures led to significant discharges of pollutants from the site to adjacent wetlands and streams. In addition, the plea agreements acknowledge that weekly site inspection reports and discharge sampling reports intended to assist regulators in assessing the adequacy of site improvement and practices were falsified. State and federal regulators monitoring the West Valley Highway site issued several administrative compliance orders in an unsuccessful effort to bring STOWE and the company into compliance.

These pleas are the second and third pleas entered in connection with this investigation. In December 2011, STOWE CONSTRUCTION employee Timothy Barger pleaded guilty to making false statements to government officials. Barger admitted to falsely representing that site improvements and practices had been adequately installed and maintained at the West Valley Highway site. Barger is scheduled for sentencing in September 2012.

The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division (EPA-CID) with assistance from the Washington State Department of Ecology and the City of Sumner, Washington. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Diggs and Jim Oesterle.

September 14, 2012
Barger was sentenced to 12 months probation.

September 28, 2012
Stowe Construction was sentenced to pay a $350,000 criminal fine.

October 10, 2012
Bryan Stowe was sentenced to 6 months incarceration, 12 months supervised release and ordered to pay a $300,000 federal fine.

In addition, Stowe will make a $100,000 payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for environmental projects targeting resources impacted by the illegal discharges. Both Stowe and the company will be subject to a court imposed storm water compliance plan for all current and future development sites.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2012
Western District of Washington

PROMINENT PIERCE COUNTY DEVELOPER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR CRIMINAL VIOLATIONS OF CLEAN WATER ACT One of First Prosecutions in the Nation for Stormwater Violations

A prominent Sumner, Washington developer was sentenced to prison today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for a felony violation of the Clean Water Act. BRYAN STOWE, 65, was sentenced to six months in prison, one year of supervised release, and a $300,000 fine for knowingly violating a national pollution discharge elimination permit. In addition, STOWE will make a $100,000 payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for environmental projects targeting resources impacted by the illegal discharges. STOWE, as president and co-owner of Stowe Construction, Inc., admitted knowingly violating the Construction General Storm Water Permit for the Rainier Park of Industry project, located on West Valley Highway in Sumner. Permit violations contributed to two major landslides at the site in 2010 and 2011. Both slides forced closure of the West Valley Highway. This case is one of the first storm water pollution criminal cases brought in the United States. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton referenced the Clean Water Act saying, “These regulations serve a broad and useful purpose. You violated them persistently. You were wrong.”

“This defendant chose profit over environmental stewardship, repeatedly scoffing at those who tried to get him to literally ‘clean-up his act,’” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “This prison sentence shows we will not allow violators to think they can simply pay money later for a crime they commit today. Today they understand that the price also includes their liberty.”

“As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, it's sadly ironic that the U.S. Attorney's Office must prosecute such a stunning case of knowing and willful environmental destruction that also threatened public safety,” said Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge for EPA's Criminal Investigation Division in the Northwest. “Despite serious financial investment and civic leadership in the restoration of Puget Sound, Defendant Bryan Stowe and his company chose profit over protection, resulting in a landslide, water pollution and road closures. The EPA and Washington Department of Ecology want this criminal case to send a message to developers: Serious environmental crimes will be vigorously pursued.”

Last month Stowe Construction, Inc. was sentenced to a $350,000 criminal fine. Both STOWE and the company will be subject to a court imposed storm water compliance plan for all current and future development sites.

Stormwater has been recognized as one of the biggest threats to the health of Puget Sound. Rainwater runoff from developed properties and construction sites contribute a significant amount of pollutants to the wetlands, streams, and rivers that comprise watersheds feeding into Puget Sound. Runoff from construction sites in particular can compromise the essential filtering functions of wetlands if developers fail to implement and maintain required measures to minimize and prevent pollutants from leaving the site.

According to various records filed in the case, BRYAN STOWE, acting on behalf of Stowe Construction, obtained coverage under the Construction Storm Water General Permit for the West Valley Highway site in October 2006. The permit required Stowe Construction to prepare and implement a plan to prevent the discharge of pollutants through use site improvements and practices designed to minimize and eliminate the migration of pollutants from the site to nearby waters. STOWE admits in the plea agreement to failing to install adequate improvements and practices between 2007 and 2011. These failures led to significant discharges of pollutants from the site to adjacent wetlands and streams. In addition, the plea agreements acknowledge that weekly site inspection reports and discharge sampling reports intended to assist regulators in assessing the adequacy of site improvement and practices were falsified. State and federal regulators monitoring the West Valley Highway site issued several administrative compliance orders in an unsuccessful effort to bring STOWE and the company into compliance. In their request for a prison sentence prosecutors wrote to the court that the crimes did significant environmental damage. “Here, the permit violations are symptoms of the defendant’s disregard for all regulatory oversight that might hurt his bottom line. He was not swayed by violation letters, administrative orders, or civil penalties. His actions exhibit a total lack of respect for the law – a law he was well aware of – as well as for the environment. Mr. Stowe’s non-compliance caused increased sedimentation in the White River and a neighboring wetlands restoration project, as well as a number of landslides,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division (EPA-CID) with assistance from the Washington State Department of Ecology and the City of Sumner, Washington. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Diggs and Jim Oesterle.


STATUTE:
  • Clean Water Act (CWA)
  • Title 18 U.S. Criminal Code (TITLE 18)

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