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Florida Man and His Corporation Sentenced for Wetlands Violations in Panama City

Release Date: 07/17/2013
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, 404-562-8293 (direct), 404-562-8400 (main), marraccini.davina@epa.gov

ATLANTA – Brian Raphael D’Isernia, 69, of Panama City Beach, Fl., and Lagoon Landing, LLC, a corporation controlled by D’Isernia, were sentenced today in federal court in the Northern District of Florida for illegal dredging and felony wetlands violations in Panama City. The two defendants were ordered to pay a criminal fine totaling $2.25 million dollars, the largest criminal fine assessed for wetlands-related violations in Florida history. D’Isernia was sentenced to pay a $100,000 criminal fine, while Lagoon Landing, LLC was sentenced to pay a $2.15 million criminal fine, a $1 million community service payment, and a term of three years probation.

D’Isernia pleaded guilty to knowingly violating the Rivers and Harbors Act. D’Isernia was charged with dredging an upland cut ship launching basin in Allanton and the channel connecting it to East Bay between December 2009 and February 2010 without obtaining a permit.

Lagoon Landing, LLC, pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act for knowingly discharging a pollutant into waters of the United States without a permit. Between 2005 and 2010, Lagoon Landing, through its agents and employees in conjunction with persons using tractors and other heavy equipment, altered and filled wetland areas of property it controlled in Allanton without obtaining a permit. The wetland areas were adjacent to and had a significant nexus to East Bay.

Lagoon Landing, LLC was also ordered to pay a $1 million community service payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a charitable non-profit organization created by Congress. The Foundation will use the money to fund projects for the conservation, protection, restoration and management of wetland, marine and coastal resources, with an emphasis on projects benefiting wetlands in and around St. Andrew Bay.

“The Southeast is home to nearly 30 percent of the nation’s wetlands,” said Acting Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg. “Today’s sentencing sends a clear message about the importance of protecting these resources, which are vital to the health of waterways and communities that are downstream.”

In a separate but related civil settlement, Northwest Florida Holdings, Inc., a Florida holding corporation controlled by D’Isernia, entered into an Administrative Compliance Order with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will result in the restoration of approximately 58.63 acres of wetlands and upland buffers. The wetlands will be protected from future development by a conservation easement. The corporation also agreed to study the water quality in and around the Allanton and Nelson Street Shipyards; upgrade stormwater protection for the Allanton Shipyard; withdraw applications to convert the launching basin to a marina and create a Planned Unit Development at the Allanton Shipyard; and hire someone to oversee environmental compliance.

In a second separate but related civil settlement, Northwest Florida Holdings, Inc. entered into a Consent Order with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and agreed to conduct stormwater corrective actions and water quality studies at the Allanton Shipyard. The corporation will pay a $9,750 civil fine to the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund, and $94,718.25 in severed dredge materials fees to the Florida Internal Improvement Trust Fund.

In a third separate but related civil settlement, Bay Fabrication, Inc., a corporation controlled by D’Isernia, entered into a Consent Order with FDEP and agreed to conduct stormwater corrective actions and water quality studies at the Nelson Street Shipyard. The corporation will pay a $6,000 civil fine to the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund, and $76,923 in severed dredge materials fees to the Florida Internal Improvement Trust Fund.

In a fourth separate but related civil settlement, Peninsula Holdings, LLC, a corporation controlled by D’Isernia, entered into a Consent Order with FDEP and agreed to conduct stormwater improvements at property it owns located at 2500 Nelson Street, Panama City, Florida 32401. The corporation will pay a $1,500 civil fine to the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund.

In a fifth separate but related civil settlement, D’Isernia and his wife Miriam D’Isernia, entered into a Consent Order with FDEP to remove unauthorized fill materials from property located in Panama City Beach, Florida. Brian and Miriam D’Isernia will pay a $250 civil fine to the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund.

These cases were investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Coast Guard Investigative Service, in partnership with EPA Region 4, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and FDEP. These cases were prosecuted by the Honorable Randall J. Hensel, Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

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