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Virginia Wastewater Treatment Operator Convicted of Violating the Clean Water Act

Release Date: 7/28/2003
Contact Information: Donna Heron, (215) 814-5113

Donna Heron, (215) 814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the conviction of Alexander Lapteff, 66, of Nokesville, Va., on seven criminal violations of the Clean Water Act.

On July 24, following a three-day trial in Richmond, Va. before U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson, a federal jury found Lapteff guilty of one count of negligently failing to properly operate and maintain a wastewater treatment facility in Christchurch, Va.; three counts of making false statements in the facility’s log books; two counts of making false statements in the monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality; and one count of taking and withholding the facility’s monitoring records.

The charges stem from the mismanagement of the wastewater treatment facility at Christchurch School in Middlesex County, Virginia. On May 9, 1997, Christchurch School hired Hinkely’s company, Analytech, Inc., a wastewater treatment contract, operations, and laboratory analysis firm in Woodbridge, Va., to run the school’s wastewater treatment facility. From May 1997 to March 2002, Hinkley and Lapteff systematically neglected the operation and maintenance of the plant, causing the discharge of sludge and chlorine into a tributary of the Rappahannock River.

In addition to neglecting the day-to-day operations of the facility, Lapteff made repeated false entries in the facility’s log books and on the Discharge Monitoring Reports submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Finally, during a billing dispute, Lapteff removed the facility’s log books, and he and Hinkley later used them as leverage in an attempt to obtain payment from the school.

On July 11, 2003, Hinkley pleaded guilty to knowingly violating the Clean Water Act. The maximum penalty for this offense is a term of three years of imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, and one year of supervised release. Hinkley also agreed to not participate in the ownership or management of any business activity involving the operation or maintenance of a wastewater or drinking water facility, or provide related laboratory sampling and testing services to such treatment facilities. He also agreed to surrender his Class I wastewater treatment license issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The court has set a sentencing date of Oct. 24, 2003 for both Lapteff and Hinkley.

Lapteff faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 per day of violation on the charges of knowingly taking and withholding monitoring records; a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for each count of false statement; and a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 per day of violation on the charge of negligently failing to properly maintain and operate the treatment facility.

Hinkley and Lapteff were indicted on March 6, 2003 on multiple charges that they violated the Clean Water Act.