Frederick Courthouse

The Frederick County Courthouse on West Patrick Street as seen from the roof of the Patrick Center.

A Frederick man who tossed waste in pits at a foreclosed residential property to avoid landfill fees pleaded guilty in court to illegal solid waste disposal and water pollution.

Jack LaForce Jr., 53, was charged with “four counts related to the excavation and disposal of solid waste at a rural residential property in Myersville and the resulting water pollution,” according to a news release from the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.

In Frederick County Circuit Court, Judge Julia A. Martz-Fisher sentenced LaForce on Thursday to four years incarceration, all suspended, and three years of probation as part of a plea agreement. The sentence includes paying fines totaling $80,000, suspending all but $30,000 owed to the Maryland Clean Water Fund and about $14,500 in restitution.

When LaForce owned a fire and flood restoration business, the attorney general’s office said he told his employees to excavate large pits at a Myersville property to dispose of waste. From approximately January 2013 through December 2015, Frederick Fire and Flood Inc. employees dug pits that were then filled with waste including: carpet and carpet padding, wood and burnt wood, trash bags of domestic waste, plastic sheeting, insulation, piping, books, papers, glass, furniture, plastic and metal objects, paint cans, wiring, mattresses and appliances.

The pits were covered to hide the illegal disposal, according to the attorney general’s office. The property was later resold.

“LaForce used foreclosed property to dispose of dangerous solid waste merely to save money,” Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a prepared statement. “This criminal conduct endangered the environment and put at risk the safety of citizens. Punishment for these crimes is unquestionably warranted.”

LaForce’s defense attorney, Christopher Rolle, told the News-Post LaForce is trying to move on after the incident.

“Mr. LaForce was not familiar with the very technical environmental laws, but once he discovered that he had done wrong, he took full responsibility for all his actions, and he has paid in full the restitution and all the fines that were required of him,” Rolle said Monday. “He was a successful business man at one point. Unfortunately, he suffered some setbacks in his life, he lost his wife and [had] some other tragic incidents. He’s trying to pick up the pieces of his life and move on.”

In April 2019, the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General excavated multiple areas of the property after an “extensive investigation that included interviews with former employees and a geophysical survey of the area,” the release states.

In addition to the solid waste found, investigators discovered a public health concern known as leachate — “the dissolution of soluble pollutants that leach from the waste into the surrounding ground water as the waste deteriorates and decomposes,” according to the attorney general’s office. Leachate poses a risk to the environment and people “and is particularly concerning in areas that obtain water from drinking wells,” the release states. Legal landfills go through extensive permitting and take significant steps to prevent this, the attorney general’s office noted.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller

(51) comments

C.D.Reid

A question I have is who owns the foreclosed residential property that this guy buried his trash on? Did he? Or did a lending institute, like a bank? Or did someone else buy it after the foreclosure and was just sitting on it? Either way, if it was zoned residential, there was a good chance that it would have been developed one day, and excavating for the basement of a new house would have put a financial burden on the property owner to dispose of the trash if this guy hadn't been found out.

Plumbum

Using public information from state agency website is a legal means for obtaining information and not unethical. Even more so, when say, someone on a public online forum, leaves a trail of clues in plain view, as to who their identity is.

With that said. Using state agency websites, I connected the dots to THIS FNP news story.

According to PUBLIC online records, Mr. and the late Mrs. Laforce owned a property on Pleasant Walk Road. However, this property is not where the dumping took place. And they sold this property in 2019.

The property at hand was also owned by Jack Laforce. He bought in in Nov 2015. PUBLIC online records say house was built in 1900. Slightly over eleven acres. Bank took possession late June 2016. New (and current) owners bought it in late Oct 2017. The bank sat on the foreclosed property for roughly sixteen months.

What the FNP did not mention is that the current owners of the property at hand also sued LaForce. With the court judgement against LaForce entered on 5/21/2021.

In review. Laforce owned the property. Bank foreclosed. And Laforce used the property as a landfill, After the bank booted him.

Plumbum

The state is being presumptive to claim that LaForce was avoiding paying landfill fees. Considering his [illegal] dumpsite was near his residence, I strongly feel its safe to speculate that it was more of a matter of convenience. Especially with the county transfer station being in the complete opposite direction.

Greg F

I doubt it was a convenience matter...pretty much everyone knows you don't dump paint into the ground. You also don't dig massive holes out of convenience and then bury stuff you know should go to the dump.

C.D.Reid

Well Plumbum, with regards to your first paragraph, the powers that be seemed to disagree with you. After all, that was why you were banned, was it not? You apparently didn't seem to understand that you just can't have your way anyway you like in a privately owned forum. Do you now?

Plumbum

Powers to be are incorrect.

You’re on what, ban number 4?

Plumbum

I will still refer to you by your legal name. And will still reference your address. I will structure it accordingly as if a judge is reviewing a case.

Plumbum

Oh, and once again, Reid what number ban are you on? Is there any reason why you won't tell us?

C.D.Reid

Ummm, I'm not on any ban Plumbum. If I were, I wouldn't be posting comments, now would I?

C.D.Reid

"Powers to be are incorrect," Pb? If that's the case, why were you banned? Face it, you simply are not in a position to tell them if they are, or are not, correct. You do what they tell you to do, or you loose your posting privileges, it's that simple. Just what is it that makes you think you're so high and mighty when you're nothing but a coward hiding behind a computer screen? Anytime you want to grow a set, come out from behind it, and tell me face to face what you tell me here I'll be more than happy to accommodate you. It would be a pleasure to meet the (in your head) famous Kelly Q. Alzan, Lead Commenter. Anytime, hon, anytime.

C.D.Reid

Oh, and once again, Pb, what are your feelings about this kind of dumping? Is there any reason why you won't tell us?

Plumbum

My feelings are not relevant. Facebook is for feelings. This isn’t Facebook. Friend request me?

A person doing illegal dumping. And from what I gather, doing so after bank took over, pretty sure that’s trespassing. How would any reasonable law abiding adult view such a scenario?

Probably the same way a reasonable law abiding adult views trolling and cyber harassment! Hope you had a nice dinner :)

C.D.Reid

Your feelings "are not relevant," Plumbum? OK then, let me rephrase my question: what is your opinion on illegal dumping of this nature? And don't tell us your opinion is irrelevant because you express it here constantly. Now, do you have the courage to answer me or are you just going to continue with your deflection?

Plumbum

Forgot to specify: the property at hand is also on Pleasant Walk Road

Plumbum

Rolle is correct. The dude dumped construction debris. It’s not diesel fuel. It’s not battery acid. It’s not toxic bio hazards. Roofing shingles contain the same ingredients as asphalt.

Paints : yes, not good.

Ya’ll are acting like a bunch of Karen’s

MD1756

Now we know why plumbum seems to hate the Sheriff so much. It appears plumbum hates any type of law enforcement otherwise, thus the name calling (calling everyone a bunch of Karens). Plumbum, for some reason, thinks it's ok to knowingly contaminate a property and then let the next owner worry about it. The simple fact is there are laws and this person knowingly violated the laws for profit (and possibly at the expense of the next property owner). There had to be environmental harm for restitution to have been ordered (pretty simple concept). For the state to pursue the action as a criminal violation and to get as high a penalty as it did, the harm must have been potentially significant and knowing. EPA and even more so the states, rarely use their authority to pursue criminal charges cases for environmental violations simply because of the resources a criminal case takes up. To me, that alone says enough about the violation. We are not "a bunch of Karens." We are citizens who want to see environmental crimes punished.

gabrielshorn2013

👍👍👍md1756! Plumbum being plumbum. Even her handle screams toxicity. I wonder if her contracting business dumps illegally too.

bosco

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] gabe. Well said.

C.D.Reid

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] MD1756 & gabe! Unfortunately, for her, she's not the legal "expert" she thinks she is. That law degree she got out of a Craker Jacks box doesn't carry much weight in a court of law.

stjohn42

Except, that this land would likely to be sold to someone, who might want to build on it, and who would then be responsible for digging up and disposing of the mess. We have laws about this for a reason.

Travis Bickle

This was a common practice with developers in Frederick County for many years.

Ausherman Construction buried any leftover material from a home site instead of moving it to the next house under construction. Many homes in the Waterside, Clover Hill, Wyngate and many more developments all have material buried in their yards. It`s simply the way it was done. Just like Fort Detrick dumped hazardous waste. Lets not pretend to be shocked.

shiftless88

That was a long time ago. This was recent.

Plumbum

Truth.

People up in here acting like this dude invented the act dumping debris.

He didn’t.

He just got caught.

It’s always gone on.

And is still going on.

gabrielshorn2013

It should not still be going on plumbum. I can maybe understand burying construction debris (e.g. wood, cinder blocks, leftover wiring) at the construction site, but not trucking it to a property and dumping debris from many sites into big pits. You seem to be OK with illegal dumping. Is that what your company does?

Plumbum

Didn’t state my feelings about dumping. Please respond to my award winning comments intelligently.

KQA

C.D.Reid

What are your feelings about this kind of dumping, Plumbum?

gabrielshorn2013

Award winning? Delusional. What certification body gave you an award? So, as CD asked, how do you feel about dumping? Folks may have gotten away with it before, but times change, and it hasn't been OK for a very long time.

gabrielshorn2013

Well, apparently you do plumbum sweetie, else you wouldn't have posted, right? Look at all the comments here. Only one person defending the guy...you. What does that say?

Plumbum

Gabs. Another inaccurate post from you. Really, don’t you have any old friends you can call and laugh about old times with?

gabrielshorn2013

Where's the inaccuracy plumbum?

MD1756

The defense attorney needs a penalty for such a stupid statement. I wonder if one of his employees turned him in. Unless he used people who haven't lived in this country long, I can't believe the workers didn't know what they were asked to do was wrong. The sad thing about this case is that the penalty is probably not a common penalty. Even with the suspended sentence and reduced fines, the penalty is pretty stiff compared to many state penalties I've seen for violations of environmental laws. The state needs to be tougher on calculating penalties for violations of environmental laws and not use every excuse in their penalty policy to try to lower the penalties. There is often a large difference in penalties for the same violation/crime when EPA calculates a fine versus when a state calculates a fine. In general, the states go soft on violators of environmental regulations.

Piedmontgardener

This wasn't a mistake, he knew exactly what he was doing and didn't want to pay commercial/hazardous disposal rates. Should have some jail time with this sentence.

Plumbum

Glad you know what’s in the heads of others.

I speculate it was easier to dump where he did rather than the long drive to the transfer station.

Piedmontgardener

Sure, that's why he pled guilty. You must have a very strange idea of the word "intentional".

eastmoonrabbit

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

sevenstones1000

“Mr. LaForce was not familiar with the very technical environmental laws,”

It takes a very good lawyer to say something like this with a straight face.

“Don’t bury carpet and furniture and garbage bags full of trash” is not all that technical.

Greg F

“Mr. LaForce was not familiar with the very technical environmental laws" a defense that is as ignorant as it gets, especially when you put paint into a pit. I'd bet dollars to donuts he dumped other stuff far worse they still haven't found.

C.D.Reid

Too much of his sentence was suspended. $44,500 for three years of illegal dumping, and purposely hiding it, isn't enough. Especially when the pollution of ground water is involved.

gabrielshorn2013

Exactly, CD. 👍👍👍

mrnatural1

Agreed CD.

The claim that "Billy does it too" or the fact that it was common practice 50+ years ago is weak sauce.

The judge should not have suspended the entire sentence.

On the plus side, at least he bothered to bury it. People just toss trash and construction debris wherever they want along our road -- and other rural roads in FredCo. Even when there is solid evidence who the trash belongs to, the authorities do nothing.

Plumbum

Sounds like things were blown out of proportion

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbdown]

C.D.Reid

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] gabe.

Dwasserba

“...he suffered some setbacks in his life, he lost his wife and [had] some other tragic incidents.” I agree there may be mitigating factors.

grapeman

Anyone know the specific address in Myersville where he was doing the dumping?

mrnatural1

IDK whether it's true in this case, but generally speaking, mitigating factors are often not given enough weight.

Of course, that requires more effort, and more of the court's time.

The defense must care enough and be competent enough, to raise all potential mitigating factors.

To the extent the judge is influenced by public opinion and political considerations, they may not be inclined to let mitigating factors influence their sentencing very much. After all, the vocal mob generally wants everyone to get the maximum sentence no matter what the back story is. Tougher always = better in their opinion (unless of course it's *their* family member on trial...).

fnpreader123

The mitigating factors aren't going to help anyone when their ground water is poisoned. Or it reaches local farms and ruins their crops. This guy is a dingaling lazy criminal, who may cause real harm to others, just like other criminals. I would have left the jail time, and banned him from ever getting a contractor's license in Maryland again.

MD1756

Mrnatural, EPA and states have their penalty policies (usually a different one for each environmental statute) that allow for the adjustment to penalties (up or down, but usually down) for various reasons (including inability to pay).

MD1756

And that is probably taken into account by the reduced penalties.

mrnatural1

As I said,

"... generally speaking, mitigating factors are often not given enough weight."

The entire post from there on is a statement about court cases in general.

MD1756

mrnatural, I was just letting you know, from personal experience working in EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, how it generally works for violations of environmental regulations. It is my opinion that EPA and more so states give too much weight to mitigating factors because they want to settle violations instead of expending limited resources extracting a more reasonable penalty (in my opinion), and I can't blame them for that because there are so many violations and very limited enforcement resources. That said, again the fact that they pursued this violation as criminal instead of civil speaks volumes because criminal cases involve significantly more resources (even if a settlement is reached before trial).

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