House of Raeford Farms Inc., a North Carolina poultry processor is facing criminal charges under the Clean Water Act alleging the illegal discharge of untreated wastewater into a sewer and municipal wastewater treatment plant. The poultry company and its plant manager were indicted on 14 federal felony counts in the matter. What is interesting about this case, United States v. House of Raeford Farms Inc., 4th Cir., No. 10-4599, motion to dismiss denied 10/18/10, is that House of Raeford Farms challenged the indictment alleging that the federal criminal prosecution amounted to multiple prosecution for the same offenses, violating the United States Constitution's double jeopardy clause.
Raeford Farms argued that the federal, felony prosecution was based solely on local restrictions, which the municipality successfully enforced and resolved with Raeford Farms, and that there was no environmental harm. This was the basis of the motion to dismiss in the District Court and in the Fourth Circuit. The district court disagreed with the Raeford Farm’s arguments and denied their motion to dismiss. United States v. House of Raeford Farms Inc., M.D.N.C., No. 1:09-cv-395, motion to dismiss denied 5/27/10. The district court based its denial on the dual sovereigns doctrine. That district court also ruled that environmental harm is not a factor under the in the Clean Water Act (i.e. the Clean Water Act does not require actual environmental harm).
On appeal, the Fourth Circuit denied a motion to dismiss the charges on claims of double jeopardy without discussion.
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