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Man Hired By National Park Service Accused of Dumping Waste Into Potomac

A Georgia man contracted with the National Park Service to clean the National Mall's storm water system finds himself in legal trouble after being accused of dumping waste into the Potomac River from Hains Point. 

47-year-old Patrick Brightwell was arrested and indicted on eight counts including conspiracy, a Clean Water Act violation, false claims, and obstructing the investigation of these offenses by tampering with witnesses and making false statements, according to Ron Machen, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. 

In a statement, Machen said, “This indictment alleges that Patrick Brightwell ripped off the taxpayer and polluted the Potomac River by illegally dumping waste he was being paid to dispose of properly. According to the indictment, Brightwell tried to cover up his crimes by lying to the police and encouraging someone else to lie as well. This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to enforcing criminal laws designed to protect our precious natural resources.”

According to the indictment, Brightwell's company been contracted between 2008 and 2011 to clean the storm water sewer system on the National Mall. The resulting waste was to be disposed of properly at a facility in compliance with District of Columbia regulations and federal law. But Brightwell allegedly told his employees to take the waste from a vacuum truck and discharge it into a Hains Point storm drain that leads to the Potomac River. 

His company received approximately $533,000 for his services during that time. 

Brightwell faces up to five years in prison on each of the conspiracy and false claims charges, as well as a $250,000 fine; a maximum sentence of three years in prison on the Clean Water Act violation and a fine of up to $50,000 per day; up to 20 years in prison on the witness tampering counts; and up to five years in prison on the false statement count, if convicted. 

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