AG Frosh: Wicomico homeowner convicted of illegal sewage discharge

AG Frosh: Wicomico homeowner convicted of illegal sewage discharge

“Environmental damage won’t be tolerated,” Frosh says

Baltimore, MD – January 13, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced today that the owner of Delmar, Maryland rental home who rigged an illegal system to divert raw sewage into a Chesapeake Bay tributary has been convicted of environmental crimes.

Marie J. Marius, a resident of Laurel, Delaware, pleaded guilty last week to misdemeanor charges of water pollution and the improper alteration of a sewage system at a home she owns with her husband on Bi-State Boulevard in Delmar. She must pay $12,000 to the Maryland Clean Water Fund and perform 75 hours of community service. She will also be on probation for three years, Retired Judge John L. Norton ordered during sentencing in Wicomico County District Court.

“When people willfully and knowingly take steps that harm our environment, we will not tolerate it,” Frosh said. “This was an egregious case, and I am glad that justice was served.”

The case stemmed from a complaint lodged by tenants who moved into the house in 2013. In February 2013, the tenants contacted the owners — Marie Marius and her husband, Darnell — to tell them that sewage was backing up into sinks and the bathroom tub, the toilet wouldn’t flush, and that strong odors were permeating the house.

The Mariuses then hired a worker to install a discharge pipe from the failing sewer system into a wooded area of the backyard, which is adjacent to Wood Creek. The pipe allowed sewage to flow into the creek, which is a tributary of the Wicomico River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The tenants told Wicomico County health officials that Marie Marius came to the property to monitor the work being done, as well as to provide payment to for the installation.

After pleading guilty, Marie Marius was sentenced to pay a $35,000, with $23,000 suspended, meaning she must pay $12,000 immediately. She also received a six-month jail sentence, which was suspended.
The contractor, Charles Elzey, has been charged with two counts of water pollution and 11 counts of installing or altering a sewage system without a permit, and the case is scheduled for trial in Wicomico County Circuit District Court in February.

The illegal system was in place for several months. The septic system has since been repaired and the environmental damage cleaned under the direction and supervision of the Wicomico County Health Department.

Frosh thanked the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Unit, including Assistant Attorney General Michelle Barnes and unit investigator Bill Schmidt, who worked with the Wicomico County Health Department on the case.

“Our team and Wicomico County did a great job enforcing the laws that protect our environment,” Frosh said. “Damage like this just cannot be allowed to take place.”

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