Patrick Brightwell, a resident of Georgia, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on November 15, 2013. The indictment was unsealed December 5, 2013.

According to the press release, Brightwell was a U.S. Government contractor working for the National Park Service to clean the storm water sewer system on the National Mall. Brightwell’s company was contracted to perform waste removal from 2008 through 2011. It is alleged that Brightwell oversaw all activity performed by his company as well as a subcontractor hired by him in 2011, B&P Environmental, LLC.

Allegedly, after the waste was collected it was transported and discarded near a storm drain that flows into the Potomac River, in violation of the contract with the National Park Service and the Clean Water Act. The Government is more or less alleging that Brightwell knew about this activity and knowingly directed employees to improperly dispose of the waste at the storm drain.

Brightwell is also facing charges of obstruction for allegedly making false statements himself, directing employees to make false statements, and telling an employee to leave the scene to avoid questioning by law enforcement agents.

Apparently, earlier this year the subcontractor, B&P Environmental, and one of its employees pled guilty to violations of the Clean Water Act and have agreed to cooperate with the government’s prosecution going forward. B&P Environmental, as a corporate entity, is probably looking at a hefty fine. At this time it is unclear what the sentence will be for the employee.

Since Brightwell was a contractor hired specifically for the purpose of removing storm water waste, the Government will rely on his past experience in waste removal and the assertions made by him to obtain the contract in an effort to discount any defense as to his level of knowledge of the Clean Water Act. Moreover, if the case goes to trial, it is almost a certainty that B&P’s cooperating employee will testify against Brightwell.

Nevertheless, it is strange that someone regularly conducting water waste removal would decide to blatantly violate the law in the Nation’s capitol. Failing to abide by environmental regulations, especially when performing a contract with the federal government in the District of all places, seems very unlikely. To overcome these accusations, Brightwell must demonstrate that he did not knowingly violate the provisions of the Clean Water Act and moreover, that his actions were not meant to facilitate violations by others or to impede the investigation.

The author of this blog is Margaret S. Ververis, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters with the law firm of Ferrari & Associates, PC. If you have any questions please contact her at 202-440-2581 or

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