Gail Marr Represents Bucks County Man in Illegal Garbage Dump Case
An 86-year-old Upper Bucks man is accused of running an illegal garbage dump where authorities said they found everything from asbestos, spilled waste oil and damaged lead batteries to ash heaps and trash buried 30 feet deep.
Herman J. Moyer waived a preliminary hearing on the charges in district court in Quakertown Thursday and now faces a trial in Bucks County Court.
Moyer’s criminal defense attorney, Gail Marr, hopes to negotiate a plea bargain that will get the elderly man probation and no jail time. A guilty plea is likely to happen in May, Marr said.
Pennsylvania Prosecutor Weighs in on Case
“The fact that he waived his preliminary hearing shows he’s willing to cooperate. We’ll take that into consideration,” said Brian Coffey, a prosecutor with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section.
Marr said Moyer, the operator of Moyer’s Salvage Yard, ran the dump for decades and could be liable for fines of up to $1,000 per day.
Since paying such a hefty expense would be impossible for Moyer, Marr aims to negotiate a reasonable financial penalty with the Attorney General’s Office. There will also be talks to set up a cleanup schedule for Moyer’s property at 394 N. Mine Road, which sits in both Richland and Springfield townships.
Moyer began operating the dump before current environmental laws were in place requiring permits and the like, Marr claimed. He wasn’t aware he was breaking the law, the attorney said.
“He’s an old school guy,” said Marr. “He didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, though.”
Importance of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Marr claimed Moyer had even accepted waste material from the state’s Department of Transportation. “To him that meant what he was doing was OK,” Marr said.
With his gray-haired buzz cut and seasoned workman’s appearance, Moyer looked more good-natured grandfather than criminal as he signed papers as part of criminal court procedure Tuesday.
When told he needed to be fingerprinted following the hearing, he asked, “Am I that much of a criminal?” According to the state, he is because he buried and burned solid waste for years without a permit.
During an inspection on July 13, 2005, a representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection found a walk-in burn barrel, old tanks, waste tires, construction-related trash and waste buried 20 to 30 feet deep, according to a court affidavit. Waste oil had stained the ground and there were lead acid batteries, old and damaged, among other finds, records said.
A Sept. 19, 2007, inspection by officers from the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Division revealed evidence of trash burning, ash debris and buried waste, authorities said.
Authorities Find Evidence on Property
“Solid waste excavated from the property included a mattress, black trash bags, tires, vehicles parts, wire fencing, plywood scraps, clothing, plumbing parts, construction debris … and pieces of aluminum siding,” records claim.
During the search, authorities also seized partially buried pipe that contained some asbestos.
Moyer reportedly told authorities that old tires located near power lines had been on his property for 30 years because he did not have the money to get rid of them.
A neighbor claimed to have seen pickup trucks containing old gas grills, refrigerators, demolition waste, wood and trash bags entering the property in early May 2007, court papers said.
Moyer allegedly admitted that ash piles on a walkway behind his house were the result of relatives burning insulation off copper wiring, said documents.
Moyer’s grandson confessed to dumping lumber on the property in July 2007 and broken bags of grass seed, fertilizer and cement on the property about five years ago, said authorities.
Moyer also used soil to fill in a pond on his property, an offense for which he faces a charge, authorities said.
Another elderly man in neighboring Haycock pleaded guilty to operating an illegal hazardous waste site in November 2006.
Calvin Peterson incurred a $7,500 fine and was ordered to begin a cleanup of the dump on his private property on Oak Lane.
A trash fire in April 2005 that burned for two days brought environmental agents to Peterson’s home. Agents found lead-tainted oil and arrested him.