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MontCo Waste Hauler Sentenced on Restaurant Grease and Auto Sludge Charges

Release Date: 11/7/2000
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA -- A Harleysville waste hauler was sentenced Friday, Nov. 3, to six months house arrest, five years of probation, a $15,000 fine and $56,856 restitution for illegal disposal of liquid waste brought to the Valley Forge Sewer Authority in Phoenixville, Pa.

Charles Perna, Jr., 35, of Harleysville, Pa. pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to a federal agency on June 29, 2000. United States District Judge Curtis Joyner’s sentence includes an order for Perna to pay $56,856 restitution to the Valley Forge Sewer Authority.

This case is part of an on-going initiative by EPA to crackdown on waste haulers who violate the Clean Water Act by dumping grease and sludge at municipal sewer treatment plants. This type of waste must be disposed of at specifically designated treatment centers.

Restaurant grease and the petroleum sludge, a byproduct of wastewater used in cleaning auto repair shops, can clog up the equipment at municipal sewer plants, overburden the systems, and inhibit sewage processing.

Perna and his septic hauling business, Perna Sanitary Disposal Service, collected the grease and petroleum waste from customers and then directed his employees to conceal the grease and oil by diluting and blending it with other liquids, and to falisfy waste disposal manifests about the true identity of the material being dumped.

Customers of Perna Sanitary Disposal Service, Collegeville, included the Norristown Area School District, the Perkiomen Valley School District, Eagleville Hospital, Wawa, Inc. Lansdale; Henkels & McCoy, Blue Bell; Conicelli Nissan/Conicelli Toyota/Carriage Trade, Conshohocken; Norristown Ford/Norristown Automobile Company, Norristown; Green Valley Country Club, Lafayette Hill; McDonald's Restaurant, Bala Cynwyd; and Mr. Rooter Plumbing, Bethlehem.

In addition, the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and FBI investigation also resulted in charges against Perna’s father, Charles Perna, Sr. for filing false tax returns. Charles Perna, Sr. has been sentenced in federal court to 12 months of house arrest, 24 months of supervised release, and $240,000 restitution for back taxes and penalties, and a $15,000 fine.

The EPA crackdown also recently resulted in sentencing Harry J. Bowman and his son Jeremy R. Bowman to prison and their company, Modern Disposal, was fined $25,000 and ordered to pay $9,959 in restitution to the City of Philadelphia for dumping restaurant grease waste into the sewer systems of Philadelphia, Doylestown and E. Norriton Township. The case involved the illegal disposal over four years of approximately 570,000 gallons of grease waste.

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