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Woodbury Homes of Grain Valley, Mo., has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of providing a false document to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at EPA’s Region 7 headquarters in Kansas City, Kan.
The document, which the defendant provided to EPA during an EPA enforcement investigation, falsely stated that Woodbury had applied for a storm water permit for residential development work in Grain Valley.
EPA and the defendant have agreed to recommend that the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas impose a $15,000 fine and a $125 special assessment. Maximum penalties the court can impose are one year in prison, five years probation, a $200,000 fine and a $125 special assessment.
Principal owner of the company is David Ward, of Grain Valley, who is also the principal owner of Ward Development & Investment Co. of Grain Valley. Ward paid a $95,000 civil penalty last year for five federal Clean Water Act violations by Ward Development at the same work site. The false statement that a storm water permit application had been submitted was made by Woodbury Homes in an effort to reduce the Ward Development penalty.
Art Spratlin, EPA Region 7 director of the Water, Wetlands and Pesticides Division, praised Region 7 inspectors for their work in identifying the Clean Water Act violations and the regional attorney’s office for discovering the false statements.
“The public must be able to rely on the accuracy of environmental reports that companies are required to give EPA,” Spratlin said. “When such reports are intentionally falsified, EPA will not hesitate to vigorously pursue criminal prosecution.”
A storm water discharge permit is required at construction sites because storm water runoff from these sites contains harmful pollutants that can be carried into lakes and streams. The civil violations by Ward Development included failing to install and maintain best management practices, failing to perform and document site inspections, discharging without a permit, and failing to develop an adequate storm-water pollution prevention plan.