Brian Raphael D'Isernia, 69, of Panama City Beach, Florida, 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. The two defendants were ordered to pay a criminal fine totaling $2.25 million dollars, the largest criminal fine assessed for wetlands violations in Florida history.
D'Isernia was sentenced to a fine of $100,000 and a $25 special monetary assessment, while Lagoon Landing, LLC, was sentenced to a term of probation of three years, a fine of $2.15 million, a community service payment of $1 million to the National Fish and Wildlife foundation, a charitable non-profit organization created by Congress, and a $400 special monetary assessment.
D'Isernia pleaded guilty to charges that he knowingly violated the Rivers and Harbors Act. Specifically, D'Isernia admitted to his involvement in illegally dredging an upland cut boat basin in Allanton and the channel connecting it to East Bay between December 2009 and February 2010.
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 used tractors and other heavy equipment to alter and fill wetland areas of property it controlled in Allanton without obtaining a permit. The wetland areas were adjacent to East Bay.
The National Fish and Wildlife 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.
United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh said, "The beautiful seashores and pristine waters in North Florida are deserving of our protection, and Congress has given us strong environmental laws to ensure these treasures are preserved for future generations. My office will continue to work closely with the EPA, as we did in this case, to enforce federal environmental protection laws. It is my hope that the $1 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for restoration and marine protection projects will help mitigate the damage done by these defendants and also send a strong deterrence message that polluting our waters will not be tolerated."
"The defendants failed to secure required permits and damaged environmentally sensitive wetlands," said Maureen O' Mara, Special Agent-in-Charge of EPA's criminal enforcement program in Florida. "These are essential natural resources and today's sentence shows that any company or person that harms them will be prosecuted."
Five separate but related civil settlements have also been filed:
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. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Randall J. Hensel.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Justice