Two charged with faking sunken-boat oil spill

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The dockmaster and assistant dockmaster at a private marina in Norfolk, Va., were charged with faking an oil spill by throwing beer bottles full of motor oil and grease into a sunken boat they want removed.

Bill Pont and Winston Williams, who run the American Legion Post 60 Marina, were charged Wednesday night with illegal dumping and making a false report, the Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported.

Each faces up to three years in jail and a maximum fine of $7,500. They also could face felony violations of the Clean Water Act for intentionally polluting a public waterway, according to city officials.

Assistant City Attorney Cynthia Hall called the case the weirdest she has dealt with in her many years with the Norfolk Environmental Crimes Task Force.

“We've never had someone stage an oil spill," she told the newspaper. "That's definitely a new one.”

Pont denied that he and Williams faked the spill to provoke action.

Hall said the two men were captured on security video filling the beer bottles with oily wastes and walking toward the sunken boat, named Problem Child, which has been on the bottom of Knitting Mill Creek since late September.

Pont has insisted to the media and emergency teams for weeks that the boat is leaking oil and should be removed from the creek as an environmental hazard. He erected a hand-painted sign proclaiming “Polluting, Nobody Cares.”

But city, state and federal inspectors, who have visited the scene numerous times, said the boat is not leaking. The Coast Guard said the owner, David Alton Brad Harvey, pumped fuel and oil off the boat after it initially sank.

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