ATLANTA — U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced in federal court, before Senior U.S. District Judge James C. Fox, that David Wayne Luther of Surf City, North Carolina, entered a guilty plea to violating the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, according to a press release.

On July 29, 2012, according to information in the public record, officers with the North Carolina Marine Patrol responded to a complaint of dredging in waters near Surf City; the officers determined Luther was allegedly "prop washing" with the M/V The Raven, stated the release.

The release reported that a Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) representative took measurements at the violation site and confirmed unauthorized dredging activity.

The maximum penalty Luther faces at sentencing for both counts is a total of two years imprisonment and a maximum total fine of $200,000; and he has also agreed to purchase 0.21 acres of coastal wetland restoration in order to compensate for impacts to wetlands and other jurisdictional waters impacted from the alleged misconduct prior to the sentencing hearing, noted the release.

“The dredging of federal waterways is strictly regulated to protect water quality and wildlife,” said Maureen O’Mara, special agent in charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in North Carolina. “The defendant repeatedly dredged material in an environmentally sensitive area that has been designated an essential fish habitat. EPA will hold violators accountable as part of its mission to protect human health and the environment.”

Read the entire press release here.