Mora Development sentenced to pay $3M fine for Clean Water Act violation
U.S. District Judge Carmen Consuelo-Cerezo sentenced Mora Development to pay a fine of $3 million, serve a five-year probation term and restitute a family whose children were affected by the criminal conduct.
Cerezo ordered company owner Cleofe Rubi-González to personally guarantee payment of all financial obligations imposed on the company.
Mora Development Corp. previously pled guilty to a one-count information charging a violation of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. Section 1311 and 1319 (C) (2) for discharging the sanitary wastewater generated from residences at Las Cascadas II development In Toa Alta, from a holding tank through a point source (a by-pass pipe) into the Toa Alta municipal storm water system and then into Quilan Creek, which flows into La Plata River, without a national pollution elimination system (Npds) permit. La Plata River serves approximately 80,000 people in Puerto Rico.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to enforce federal laws which protect the environment and the public,” Said Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
“Today’s sentence should serve as a deterrent to those who consider discharging waste water into our creeks. Our office will continue to work with all law enforcement agencies to help prevent release of hazardous material into our creeks, protect workers and the local community,” she said.
“Mora Development Corporation knowingly cut corners to save money by discharging raw sewage into the La Plata River without proper treatment in violation of the Clean Water Act,” said Tyler Amon, special agent-in-charge of criminal investigation division for the EPA’s Region 2 office In New York.
“The scheme to hide an illegal sewage system is a short-sighted business decision that put the community’s health and environment at risk. The EPA will continue to work directly with our Commonwealth partners to investigate and seek prosecution of environmental crime offenders,” he said.
the government presented evidence that over the course of the time prior to properly connecting with the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, Mora discharged more than 29 million gallons of sewage into the municipal stormwater system and into Quilan Creek.
Former Project Manager, Jose Merino had also pled guilty previously and was sentenced to six months’ probation.
The case was prosecuted by the Howard P. Stewart senior litigation counsel of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Márquez. The EPA’s Region 2 investigated the case.