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Pennsylvania Company and President Plead Guilty in Clean Water Act Case

Release Date: 12/01/2004
Contact Information:


Contact: John Millett 202-564-7842 / millett.john@epa.gov

(12/01/04) BEF Corp. of Allentown, Pa., and Elward Brewer of Englewood, Fla., BEF’s founder and president, each pleaded guilty on Nov. 12, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to violating the Clean Water Act by discharging silver-laden and acidic wastewater into sewers operated by the City of Bethlehem, Pa., and the City of Allentown, Pa. In addition, BEF also pleaded guilty to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to making false statements to the government. The plea agreement calls for Brewer and the company to jointly pay $700,000 in fines. In addition, Brewer faces up to one year in prison. The exact length of his sentence will be determined at sentencing. BEF buys used one-hour photo processing machines, refurbishes them and then resells them throughout the world. During the refurbishment process, BEF generates silver-laden and acidic wastewater which was illegally discharged into sewers. The other charges arose from BEF’s illegal export of goods to Iran, and from BEF’s practice of discounting the fair market value of its photo labs on Shippers’ Export Declarations to help its international customers avoid paying import duties. Unlawfully disposing of metal laden and acidic wastewater into sewers can damage sewage treatment equipment and can interfere with the proper treatment of sewage by sewage treatment facilities. The case was investigated by the Philadelphia office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Investigative assistance was provided by EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center and the wastewater treatment departments of the Borough of Catasauqua, the City of Bethlehem, South Whitehall Township and the City of Allentown. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia.