- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2006

Federal authorities have filed a criminal charge against a yacht club along the Anacostia River for illegal dumping months after D.C. officials said the club was in the running for a prestigious environmental award.

The District Yacht Club illegally discharged 240 square feet of concrete debris into the river in 2003, according to recent misdemeanor charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in federal court in the District.

According to the charging documents, which do not name any yacht club members or officers , the club dumped the concrete into the Anacostia without seeking a permit.

Criminal prosecution under the federal Refuse Act, which the yacht club is accused of violating, includes penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation and/or imprisonment ranging from a month to a year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which monitors discharge permits, yesterday referred questions about the investigation to the Justice Department.

Justice Department spokeswoman Cynthia Magnuson said that a hearing in the case is scheduled Dec. 5. A plea deal is expected in the case, according to court records.

The charges come four months after D.C. officials announced that the District Yacht Club was one of four yacht clubs and marinas in the District being considered for an official designation in the “Clean Marina Award” program.

Yacht club officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A volunteer at the club, who asked that his name not be published, said that the concrete ended up in the river in connection with a project to install a rail system used to help lift boats in and out of the water.

The volunteer said that the concrete was being used as a foundation to provide support for the rail system, but that the government’s investigation mostly centered on the failure to obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The volunteer also said that the yacht club is a small organization with about three dozen members. He said that club members plan to meet to discuss the case this weekend.

It’s not clear what prompted the investigation. Under federal law, tipsters who provide information leading to successful prosecution under the federal Refuse Act can receive half of whatever amount a judge determines violators should pay in fines.

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