12 January 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida;
Ricky Langlois, Special Agent in Charge, Environmental Protection Agency; Robert E.
Harris, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Defense, Defense
Criminal Investigative Service; and Thomas Wilkin, Special Agent in Charge, United
States Army, Criminal Investigation Division, Southeast Field Office, announced
today that on Monday, January 10, 2005, defendant, Jeffrey A. Balch, was sentenced
by United States District Court Judge K. Michael Moore, in Key West, Florida, to a
term of imprisonment of five (5) months, followed by a five (5) month term of home confinement.
On September 29, 2004, Balch pleaded guilty to knowingly discharging pollutants
into Florida Bay, without a permit, in violation of the Clean Water Act, Title 33,
United States Code, Section 1319(c)(2)(A).
According to statements in court at the
time of the plea, Balch, the owner of bayfront property in Marathon, Florida, had
signed an agreement with Felix Equities, a contractor for the Little Venice
Sewerage Project in Marathon, which allowed Felix Equities to dump excavated fill
on Balch’s bayfront property. After Felix Equities began to dump the fill,
composed of sand, dirt, rocks and asphalt, at the property in early, 2002, Balch
and others acting at this direction, used heavy equipment to place fill into the
surface waters of Florida Bay. The filling process continued throughout February
and March, 2002, progressively expanding into Florida Bay. The impacted area
eventually comprised approximately a quarter acre in size.
Balch’s plea agreement required that Balch remove the illegally placed fill,
restore the shoreline to its original condition, pay a criminal fine in the amount
of $15,000, and pay restitution to the Florida Keys Environmental Restoration Trust
Fund for damage to the bay bottom. By the time of his sentencing hearing on January
10, 2005, Balch had removed the illegally placed fill and restored the shoreline,
and he had paid restitution in the amount of $66,122 to the Florida Keys
Restoration Trust Fund. Balch additionally paid the $15,000 criminal fine at
Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the Environmental Protection
Agency, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the United States Army,
Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United
States Attorney Jose A. Bonau of the Environmental Crimes Section.