Ex-owner of excavating firm pleads guilty in dumping case

January 28, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

M. Edward Suddreth and his former company, Patapsco Excavating Inc., have pleaded guilty to accepting and illegally dumping solid waste and will be sentenced March 7 in Baltimore's District Court.

The state Department of the Environment (MDE) brought three counts of commercial littering against Mr. Suddreth and the company after environmental inspectors said they saw solid waste dumped at the site in the 600 block of W. Patapsco Ave. three times in 1994.

Bernard A. Penner, an assistant attorney general, asked Judge Charlotte M. Cooksey to fine Patapsco Excavating $25,000.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison or a $25,000 fine.

"This case is by far the worst commercial littering case we have dealt with to date," Mr. Penner said in court Friday.

He also asked Judge Cooksey to give Mr. Suddreth a five-year sentence with all but 90 days suspended and to place him on supervised probation.

Judge Cooksey deferred sentencing until 2 p.m. March 7 so she could review the evidence.

The delay also gives Mr. Suddreth's attorney time to pull together a picture of his client's finances. Max H. Lauten, the lawyer, said Mr. Suddreth is broke.

Mr. Lauten said his client fell on hard times a few years ago and may not be able to pay any fines levied in the case.

State tax liens of about $25,000 are outstanding against Patapsco, which Mr. Suddreth sold at a tax sale. Mr. Lauten said the mortgage on the property is in arrears.

Belle Grove Road residents had complained about Mr. Suddreth's operation for years. The 32-acre "clean" fill in Baltimore is separated from Brooklyn Park by the Patapsco River and the Harbor Tunnel Thruway. It is not allowed to accept solid waste.

Dolores Impallaria, president of the Belle Grove Road Improvement Association, said in court that the dirt pile blocks the community's view of Baltimore's skyline.

"I like Suddreth. But I didn't like the hill. I didn't like the dust. I didn't like what he's done to our community," said Mrs. Impallaria, who lives in the 400 block of Old Riverside Road. "But he has done some things for our little league. I like him as a man."

The MDE issued 31 site complaints against Mr. Suddreth and his company from December 1988 to September 1994 for accepting unpermitted waste.

In July, the agency issued a stop work order and fined the company $18,000 for accepting solid waste. That matter has not been resolved.

Asked Friday why he had not stopped accepting solid waste, Mr. Suddreth replied, "It wasn't necessarily explained to me that it was illegal." Mr. Suddreth told the court that something went wrong every time he tried to put his operation in order.

"You might have misunderstood once," Judge Cooksey said, "but I don't see how you could have misunderstood all those times since 1988 and that's what I'm having trouble grappling."

L At that point, Mr. Lauten intervened on his client's behalf.

"You see that Mr. Suddreth is rough around the edges," he told the judge. "He does have a stubborn streak. But he has learned his lesson."

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