Federal Contractor in Albany Found Guilty of Making False Statements Regarding Hazardous Waste Disposal

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Brian J. Wallace, 59, of Leesburg, Georgia, a federal contractor serving as the Head of the Environmental Services and Public Works Division at the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany, was found guilty by a federal jury this week. The verdict came after a three-day trial that began on Feb. 26, with Wallace convicted of making false statements about his knowledge of whether hazardous waste was pumped into the local community’s sewer system.

Wallace faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date will be scheduled by the Court, presided over by U.S. District Judge Leslie A. Gardner.

Co-defendant Horizon Environmental Services, LLC, previously pleaded guilty to reckless conduct on May 11, 2023, and was sentenced to two years of probation, 100 hours of community service, $900 in restitution to MCLB-Albany (Horizon’s profit for the contract work), and a $10,000 fine on Aug. 3, 2023.

U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary expressed relief that no hazardous waste had made its way into the Flint River, a significant ecosystem in Southwest Georgia. “Federal prosecutors and our law enforcement partners will hold individuals and businesses accountable when their unlawful and reckless choices put people and our environment at risk,” said Leary.

EPA-CID Acting Special Agent in Charge Kristopher Martel emphasized the gravity of providing false statements during investigations into hazardous waste disposal. “This guilty verdict demonstrates the agency’s commitment to protect communities and their water resources,” Martel stated.

According to court documents and trial evidence, MCLB-Albany operates a production plant responsible for disassembling old equipment, including hazardous materials requiring proper disposal. The plant’s waste is processed by the industrial wastewater treatment plant (IWTP) on the base, which then discharges treated wastewater to the City of Albany.

Following a breakdown of the IWTP’s clarifier rake on May 10, 2021, Horizon Environmental Services was subcontracted to vacuum the clarifier tank’s contents into sludge boxes. However, evidence revealed that approximately 30,000 gallons of liquid from the clarifier were pumped into the City of Albany’s sewer system without proper notification, as required by law.

Wallace, despite claiming ignorance to EPA investigators, was proven in court to have known about the pumping of liquid waste into the sewer system, thus providing false information.

While there is no evidence of harm to the community, a rainstorm on May 12, 2021, could have led to an overflow before the liquid reached the City of Albany’s water treatment facility. The EPA indicated that although there’s no reason to believe the overflow ultimately drained into the Flint River, proper notification could have mitigated potential hazards.

The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA CID), with Criminal Chief Leah McEwen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Elicia Hargrove prosecuting the case for the Government.