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Man Serves Hard Time for Cleaning Dump
CNSNews.com ^ | June 18, 2003 | National Center for Public Policy Research

Posted on 06/18/2003 7:27:26 PM PDT by microgood

(Editor's Note: The following is the 72nd of 100 stories regarding government regulation from the book Shattered Dreams, written by the National Center for Public Policy Research. CNSNews.com will publish an additional story each day.)

The day after Thanksgiving in 1990, John Pozsgai began serving a three-year prison sentence in Pennsylvania's Allenwood Federal Prison. He wasn't convicted of burglary, armed robbery or a violent crime like murder or assault. Pozsgai was serving hard time because he violated the Clean Water Act.

Pozsgai is a first-generation immigrant who escaped communist Eastern Europe during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and settled in Morrisville, Pa., near Trenton, N.J., where he and his wife raised a family.

An illegal dump full of tires, cars and scrap metal, among other objects, lay adjacent to the Pozsgai residence. The dump also contained a storm water drainage system and a stormwater drainage ditch dating to 1936. The township of Morrisville was responsible for maintaining the ditch. It did not meet its responsibilities. As a result, the approximately 1,000 tires left in the ditch caused local flooding, including on the adjacent road and in the Pozsgai home, every year for 20 years.

Here's what happened next, according to testimony by Pozsgai's daughter, Victoria Pozsgai-Khoury, to the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform in 2000:

"On August 21, 1986, my father signed an agreement of sale and obtained title insurance for the dump across our street. He wanted to build a 12,500-square-foot building that would expand his business and enhance the community. At the very least, an ugly eyesore of a dump would be cleaned up. He removed well over 5,000 tires from this dump, approximately 1,000 of which were blocking the stormwater drainage ditch. However, within months of acquiring this property, notices were sent to my father from the Army Corps of Engineers informing him of the presence of wetlands. These supposed wetlands stemmed from a 'stream' that was connected to 'navigable waters of the United States.'

"Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, a 'stream' never ran through our newly acquired dump. From the beginning, it was a stormwater drainage ditch that was installed by the Township of Morrisville in 1936. We repeatedly told this to the Army Corps of Engineers, yet they never believed us. It was only in this past year that the Township of Morrisville recognized their responsibility for the upkeep of this stormwater drainage ditch. And then, the Township only did so after we presented it with irrefutable evidence that it had acquired the property on which the ditch lay in 1962.

"Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, my father is the type of man who will tell you straight to your face that he doesn't like you. That may not be politically correct in today's society, but it's honest. That is because he's honest. So, when people came to our property and trespassed on it, he told them in no uncertain terms to leave. He believed that America was still a country where a man's property was his own, and the government needed a warrant before it attempted to collect evidence to use against a citizen.

"My father is also a man who always believed in complying with the law. He never meant to violate it. But when he started receiving notices, he did not fully understand some of them. Some of the notices were forwarded to our lawyer, who never told us about them. (Our lawyer was reprimanded later for drunkenness in court.) Many of them actually referred to a completely different piece of property, with another tax parcel number. And a few my father flat-out ignored because he was totally convinced there was a mix-up between the pieces of property being cited.

"Remember, this was an illegal dump for approximately 30 years. People had deposited fill, cars and tires all over it. He never, in his wildest imaginations, thought that he would be cited for wetlands violations for cleaning up his property and adding clean fill to this dump.

"In 1987, my father was informed by the Army Corps that he was being civilly sued to restore the property to its previous condition. It's important to understand that the Army Corps wanted him to reestablish the damming effect that approximately 1,000 tires had in the stormwater drainage ditch. In effect, they were telling him to re-dam his property that had been an illegal dump for over 30 years.

"When he was told by Army Corps that he needed a permit to build his truck repair shop, he obtained a water quality permit from Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Resources. He did this, even though he was told by the Department of Environmental Resources that his new property, the dump, was not on the National Wetlands Inventory.

"Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, at every point along the way, my father kept asking, 'How can we make this work?' When he was told by the Army Corps that he must do 'mitigation' to build on his property, he thought he was being asked for a bribe. He went to the FBI to report it. He never fully understood what he was doing wrong, yet Army Corps sued him. Concurrently, Army Corps referred his case to the Environmental Protection Agency, who then referred it to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. And, at the same time he was being sued, the Army Corps was continually asking for more information to process his permit.

"Talk about a Catch-22.

"He was arrested. His house was searched for weapons by two federal EPA officers. Our family owns no weapons besides the knives we use in our kitchen. We are still trying to figure out why our house was searched. Our family had little to no money for a lawyer, as my father had invested most of it in the dump across the street from our home.

"Because of Army Corps' actions, my father was civilly sued and had a judgment laid against him. My father was sentenced to three years in prison and a $202,000 fine.

"The effect this had upon my family was absolutely devastating. In the end, my father was imprisoned for a year and a half, lived in a halfway house for a year and a half, and was given five years of supervised probation. My family was forced to declare bankruptcy. Our family was unable to pay the property taxes on our dump. Subsequently, the judge lowered his fine to $5,000. I lost my job as a journalist after my editor explained to me that my father's name was too visible in the news. But the thing that hurt the very most was scheduling my own wedding between trials and appeals.

"At the time my father was sentenced, he was the 'worst environmental violator' in the history of the United States. No one had gone to prison for the Exxon Valdez disaster. No one went to prison when EPA noted 22,348 pounds of toxic TRI chemicals were released into the water in Essex, N.J. But John Pozsgai went to prison for Clean Water Act violations on 14 acres of an illegal dump in Morrisville, Pa."

Pozsgai's daughter, Victoria Khoury, is seeking a presidential pardon for her father. Pozsgai's troubles, however, have yet to end. In 2002, three environmental organizations went to federal court asking for the right to take Pozsgai to court to force him to "restore" the site. As the Philadelphia Inquirer put it in a March 2002 article, these groups believe "the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Attorney's Office have not been tough enough" on Pozsgai.

Sources: Testimony of Victoria Khoury before the House Committee on Government Reform.

Copyright 2003, National Center for Public Policy Research


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Idaho; US: Oregon; US: Washington
KEYWORDS:
Unbelievable. I do not understand how he got the jail time by being sued in civil court.
1 posted on 06/18/2003 7:27:26 PM PDT by microgood
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To: microgood
I want to see another article on this before I make up my mind, but there's no question that if the facts are as this article cites them, this isn't a pardonable offense as he didn't commit a crime. It needs to be overturned, not pardoned. And this whole family deserves damages and compensation from the government--federal, state, and especially local.
2 posted on 06/18/2003 7:32:46 PM PDT by ChemistCat (Transformers look just as good by morning light as they did the night before.)
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To: mhking
Please ping your list to this one. How about HOLD MY USED TIRES...
3 posted on 06/18/2003 7:33:23 PM PDT by ChemistCat (Transformers look just as good by morning light as they did the night before.)
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To: Howlin; Ed_NYC; MonroeDNA; widgysoft; Springman; Timesink; dubyaismypresident; Grani; coug97; ...
"Hold muh beer 'n watch this!" PING....

If you want on or off this list, please let me know!

4 posted on 06/18/2003 7:39:32 PM PDT by mhking
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To: ChemistCat
I believe the government claimed that he committed the crime of filling in a wetlands area. I'm unhappy with this whole case, too. I first heard about it some years ago in the WSJ before he was convicted and imprisoned. I never thought he would get the jail time they were threatening him with.
5 posted on 06/18/2003 7:41:59 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: microgood
Liberals are evil.
6 posted on 06/18/2003 7:42:11 PM PDT by moyden2000
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To: ChemistCat
From epa's web site:

Wetlands Criminal Enforcement

Since enactment of the Clean Water Act, EPA and the Corps have used their criminal enforcement authoritites sparingly in response to Section 404 violations. As demonstrated by the following examples, EPA and the Corps reserve their criminal enforcement authority for only the most flagrant and egregious Section 404 violations.

United States v. Pozsgai

In December 1989, a Philadelphia jury convicted John Pozsgai on 40 counts of knowingly filling wetlands in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, without a Section 404 permit. Mr. Pozsgai was sentenced to three years in jail, ordered to restore the site upon his release, and assessed a fine. His conviction and sentence have been affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even prior to purchasing the 14-acre tract in 1987, Mr. Pozsgai was told by private consultants that the site contained wetlands subject to permitting requirements of Section 404. He purchased the property at a reduced price due to the presence of wetlands, and then proceeded to ignore no fewer than ten warnings from EPA and Corps field staff to stop filling the wetlands without first getting a Section 404 permit. He also defied a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by a Federal court judge. In fact, the government documented violations of the TRO on videtape, thanks to the cooperation of neighbors whose homes were being flooded as a result of Mr. Pozsgai’s filling in his wetlands.
7 posted on 06/18/2003 7:47:02 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: Luke Skyfreeper
a Philadelphia jury convicted John Pozsgai

Either it was the Pennsylvania equivalent of the OJ jury, or we're being snowed by the son....

I do not think cleaning up a dump should be criminalized--there should be a high burden of proof for the government here. Thanks much for confusing me further--LOL!
8 posted on 06/18/2003 7:54:39 PM PDT by ChemistCat (Transformers look just as good by morning light as they did the night before.)
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To: microgood
Hold muh enviro-nazi alert!
9 posted on 06/18/2003 7:55:07 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: microgood
They should sue the township for knowingly selling the family a toxic waste site without cleaning it up first.

If old cars are dumps then the lead batteries in them are toxic waste.
10 posted on 06/18/2003 7:56:14 PM PDT by Chewbacca (Start colonizing the Moon and Mars so I can get off this loony bin they call Earth.)
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To: microgood
In 2002, three environmental organizations went to federal court asking for the right to take Pozsgai to court to force him to "restore" the site.

I would be in jail for killing a few of those lousy, busybody #@$%@#$#&**@.

11 posted on 06/18/2003 8:13:41 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: moyden2000
"Liberals are evil."

This is what happens when you give power to Liberals. They are usually corrupt and abuse their power. They are mostly evil. They were just dying to prosecute this guy. Sounds like to me.

One reason Bush needs to appoint conservative judges to the courts. Get these a**hole Liberals out.

12 posted on 06/18/2003 8:14:20 PM PDT by auggy (http://home.bellsouth.net/p/PWP-DownhomeKY /// Check out My USA Photo album & Fat Files)
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To: ChemistCat
That jury really needed to know about the 1000 year old right of jury nullification that allows the jury to judge the law as well as the facts.
13 posted on 06/18/2003 8:17:27 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: microgood
WHAT A HIDEOUS MISCHARRIAGE OF JUSTICE AND AN EXTREME EXAMPLE OF BUREAUCRATIC INSANITY NO MATTER HOW YOU SLICE IT, NO MATTER ANY OTHER PERSPECTIVE EVEN IF ONLY 25% OF THESE FACTS ARE TRUE.

Besides, having heard enough of such organizations from around these parts--it sounds like business as usual. These folk have no brains and their empty heads are stuck in places the sun doesn't shine.
14 posted on 06/18/2003 8:21:37 PM PDT by Quix
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To: ChemistCat
I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU. This guy needs what--3 X punitive damages etc.?

I'd love it if the tree huggers had to sell some trees to pay damages to this man.

And I love trees dearly. But insanity is still insanity.
15 posted on 06/18/2003 8:23:00 PM PDT by Quix
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To: Luke Skyfreeper
HIDEOUS. SIMPLY HIDEOUS INSANITY.
16 posted on 06/18/2003 8:24:33 PM PDT by Quix
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To: microgood
please note that, according to the EPA info posted above, this guy kept ignoring warnings and filled in the site, which then caused his neighbors' houses to flood. if any of us lived next to this guy, and he caused our houses to flood, we might not be so favorable towards him.
i think the first article (based on his daughter's testimony) may be somewhat misleading. and remember, a jury did convict him.
17 posted on 06/18/2003 9:08:27 PM PDT by drhogan
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To: microgood; mhking; marsh2; dixiechick2000; Mama_Bear; doug from upland; WolfsView; Issaquahking; ...
Rights, farms, environment ping.

Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.

18 posted on 06/18/2003 10:10:54 PM PDT by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: farmfriend
Unbelievable Bump...
19 posted on 06/18/2003 10:24:14 PM PDT by tubebender (FReepin Awesome...)
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To: farmfriend
BTTT!!!!!!!
20 posted on 06/19/2003 3:07:08 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: Quix
Agreed Quix.

Bend over a little further America pretty soon we'll all be gasping for air and gagging on bowel gas.
21 posted on 06/19/2003 3:19:12 AM PDT by Fearless Flyers
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To: drhogan
first of all, note "according to the EPA"...don't believe anything they say! Next, the wetlands are not natural, they were only caused to be there by the effect of thousands of tires, vehicles, etc. Now if the guys neighbor's property flooded, because this guy cleaned up the mess....that the town had created and allowed.....the neighbor needs to sue the township! Hell, would you like to live near and illegal dump? Besides, the man done the whole community a service cleaning up toxins to the whole community!
22 posted on 06/19/2003 5:08:21 AM PDT by countrydummy
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To: Luke Skyfreeper; drhogan
The neighbors have a problem while the man is making improvements to a property that has already been proven a hazard. The place is a tire dump and likely a public hazard in breeding malaria, (“wet lands”). The flooding appears to be a pre-existing condition that became offensive when more of the community became affected. The people have been ignoring their responsibility to each other for over 20 years.

Instead of addressing the problem as a community, correcting the problems together as they arise and strengthening their union, the neighbors run crying to Big Brother. Such practices do not serve the constitution. The excerpt from the EPA exposes to me a Mrs. Kravitz syndrome, who pisses and moans about the accomplishments of the beautiful Samantha Stevens, because of her own personal superstitions and perceived inadequacies.

Given the Governments propensity for unconstitutional encroachment into our personal lives, it allows the people to neglect their own responsibility in communicating with each other and strengthening the unions that make up the foundation of our United States.

The government should encourage local solutions to problems with limited mediation. Unfortunately our schools and special interest driven two party political systems encourage government encroachment, repressing our natural independent Spirit and weakening the will of the people.

I count myself among the Free and The Brave not the Limp and Bent Over. What is most offensive to me, is that had the land owner been in a weaker position in the first place, he too would have had the opportunity to invite an unelected Bureaucracy to bear pressure in favor an issue opposed to the will of the people. This later example is less often the case when we are discussing individual land owner’s rights.

Note the link that allowed the Army Corp, of Engineers to get involved. “These supposed wetlands stemmed from a 'stream' that was connected to 'navigable waters of the United States.’ “ Is a local zoning issue about a drainage ditch within the Corps authority when it appears to be simply a matter of which way the water runs through the neighborhood.

23 posted on 06/19/2003 5:25:12 AM PDT by Fearless Flyers
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To: microgood
If there is a fund set up for this family, I will happily donate. If President Bush ignores this travesty, why do we have our people fighting in Iraq and elsewhere for justice and freedom?

Maybe it's time for a third (or second?) party.

24 posted on 06/19/2003 5:28:14 AM PDT by DLfromthedesert
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To: ChemistCat
This is an update of an old story. The man himself wrote a far more thorough account several years ago. It may very well be in our archives...although since our archives are limited to 2000...2001...it might not.

The story came out about the same time as the first time we received the hoaxy story concerning the beavers and a dam.
25 posted on 06/19/2003 5:37:16 AM PDT by Maelstrom (To prevent misinterpretation or abuse of the Constitution:The Bill of Rights limits government power)
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To: microgood
IS IT TIME YET?

26 posted on 06/19/2003 5:39:23 AM PDT by StriperSniper (Frogs are for gigging)
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To: Luke Skyfreeper
Misleading.

The dump site regularly flooded those homes *before* he cleaned it up.
27 posted on 06/19/2003 5:39:28 AM PDT by Maelstrom (To prevent misinterpretation or abuse of the Constitution:The Bill of Rights limits government power)
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To: drhogan
Federal Agencies lie and federal juries are given the mushroom treatment. In any case, damage to his neighbor's homes (if any, see above) is a civil matter. So why is any of this within the Section 8 powers of the Federal Government?
28 posted on 06/19/2003 6:11:36 AM PDT by Rifleman
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To: microgood
When we surrender the traditional God given right to regulate the commerce of popsicle stick races through our city streets, to the Army Corp of Engineers, we can probably begin to count ourselves among the weak and bent over.
29 posted on 06/19/2003 6:12:14 AM PDT by Fearless Flyers
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To: microgood
Got wetland woes? Well here’s some relief spelled Supreme Court.

On Jan 9, 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers has no jurisdiction over isolated wetlands, more commonly known as mosquito infested swamps.

The court said the Corps of Engineers' jurisdiction over the Waters of the United States extended only to navigable waters, waters or wetlands adjacent to navigable waters and tributaries that flow directly into navigable waters.

Isolated swamps, bogs, pools, lagoons, marshes, mires, morasses, streams, quagmires, sloughs, puddles, dewy grass and rusty cans filled with rainwater fall under state jurisdiction, the court wrote.

In Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers the court said Corps bureaucrats may not declare authority over swamp-wetlands that are not connected by a channel, river or tributary to a larger body of water.

Carol LaGrasse, president of Property Rights Foundation of America, hailed the decision in an analysis she authored as a "fatal blow to the decades of (corps') regulation of isolated wetlands."

As always, consult a competent attorney before filling a swamp, diverting the course of a river or dumping trash, garbage or effluent in a navigable body of water, unless you’re the federal government. Then you are exempt from all laws, regulations and common sense.
30 posted on 06/19/2003 7:21:01 AM PDT by sergeantdave
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To: StriperSniper
Miller Time?

;^)
31 posted on 06/19/2003 8:04:01 AM PDT by headsonpikes
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To: headsonpikes
Miller Time?

No, Samuel Adams of course!;-)

32 posted on 06/19/2003 8:16:38 AM PDT by StriperSniper (Frogs are for gigging)
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To: Fearless Flyers
Am glad THE KING is coming soonish and setting all things to right.

It's the between now and then that gives me the shudders.
33 posted on 06/19/2003 8:49:13 AM PDT by Quix
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To: auggy
This is what happens when you give power to Liberals.

I believe this started in 1987. It is not just Liberals. The criminals were running the country then and the criminals are still running the country today. None of this will change until we purge our country of politicians who believe themselves above the Constitution!
34 posted on 06/20/2003 10:14:15 AM PDT by Crusader21stCentury
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