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Pennsylvania Company President and Firm Sentenced in Clean Water Act Case

Release Date: 04/14/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Stacie Findon-Keller, 202-564-7338 / keller.stacie@epa.gov


(04/14/05) BEF Corp. of Allentown, Pa.; and BEF's founder and president, Elward Brewer of Englewood, Fla.; were both sentenced on April 1 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Allentown, Pa., for violating the Clean Water Act by discharging heavy metal-laden acidic waste water into sewers operated by the City of Bethlehem, Pa., and the City of Allentown, Pa. In addition, BEF also pleaded guilty to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to making false statement to the government. BEF and Brewer were sentenced to jointly pay a $700,000 penalty, including a $50,000 Supplemental Environmental Project to the Wildlands Conservancy. BEF was also ordered to serve a five year period of probation. Elward Brewer was additionally sentenced to six months' house arrest, 36 months of supervised release, and 160 hours of community service in an environmental activity. BEF buys used one-hour photo processing machines, refurbishes them and then resells them throughout the world. During the refurbishing process, BEF generated silver, lead, and chromium laden wastes and acidic wastes which were illegally discharged to the sewers. The other charges arose from BEF's illegal exportation of goods to Iran, and from BEF's practice of discounting the fair market value of its photo labs on Shippers' Export Declarations to help its international customers avoid paying import duties. Unlawfully disposing of heavy metal laden and acidic waste water into sewers can damage sewage treatment equipment and can interfere with the proper treatment of sewage by sewage treatment facilities. The case was investigated by the Philadelphia Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Custom's Enforcement, the U.S. Commerce Department's Office of Export Enforcement, and the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Investigative assistance was provided by EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center and the Waste Water Treatment Departments of the Borough of Catasauqua, the City of Bethlehem, South Whitehall Township, and the City of Allentown, Pa. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia.