Virginia Mayor reportedly directed employees to pump sewage into river, indictment claims

MGN Online
MGN Online(Source: MGN)
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 12:00 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WHSV) - A federal grand jury in Roanoke, Virginia has indicted James Howard Spencer, the Mayor of Glen Lyn, Virginia, for his alleged violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA), according to the United States Attorney’s Office Western District of Virginia.

The indictment, returned under seal March 9, 2023 and unsealed following the defendant’s initial court appearance, charges Spencer with three counts of violating the CWA.

“When individuals – especially those in positions of authority –pollute our rivers and streams in violation of the law, our Office will hold them accountable.” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said.

The indictment alleges that Spencer directed employees of the Town of Glen Lyn to pump sewage and other pollutants from a pump station located behind the Glyn Lyn Post Office into the East River, which is a perennial stream and tributary of the New River. Spencer took these alleged actions on three separate occasions, in the summer of 2019, December 2020, and again in June 2021, according to the indictment.

“The defendant abused his position of authority and violated the public’s trust by ordering public employees of Glen Lyn to illegally discharge raw sewage into the East River, a tributary of the New River,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Conrad. “EPA is committed to prosecuting those who choose to violate our environmental laws, especially those who hold a position of public trust such as Mayor Spencer.”

Anderson Legal, who are representing Spencer, released a statement on his behalf Friday.

“Howard Spencer has tirelessly devoted the majority of his adult life to the citizens of the Town of Glen Lyn, serving them in many different capacities. Mr. Spencer looks forward to aggressively defending and responding to the allegations that have been brought against him by the United States government.”

Spencer appeared in court on Friday and plead not guilty to all charges.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh, Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Conrad made the announcement on March 27. The ongoing investigation is being jointly handled by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Virginia State Police