Bush declines to pardon engineer in wetlands case

December 25, 1992|By Staff Report

Despite intense lobbying from landowners and som conservatives, President Bush did not free William B. Ellen, the Virginia marine engineer serving six months in a federal prison for illegally filling wetlands on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

The president's apparent decision not to include Mr. Ellen among the 24 people he pardoned or granted clemency angered Margaret Ann Reigle, founder of the Fairness to Landowners Committee based in Cambridge.

"None of these people is sitting in a federal penitentiary and has a 2-year-old and 4-year-old at home," she said. Some of those granted clemency had been convicted years ago selling as little as an ounce of marijuana, she said.

Mr. Ellen, 47, of Mathews, Va., was convicted in January 1991 by a federal District Court jury in Baltimore of illegally filling 86 acres of wetlands in Dorchester County. He was overseeing the construction of a private waterfowl hunting and game preserve on 3,200 acres owned by Paul Tudor Jones II, a wealthy Wall Street trader. Mr. Jones avoided trial by pleading guilty and agreeing to pay $2 million in fines and restitution.

Ms. Reigle, whose group claims more than 11,000 members upset by federal restrictions on developing wetlands, has lobbied the White House, Congress and the news media on behalf of freeing Mr. Ellen. She and others have argued that Mr. Ellen does not deserve to go to prison.

But federal prosecutors and Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, the Republican who represents the Shore, contend that Mr. Ellen ignored repeated warnings to halt his illegal destruction of wetlands.

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