Virginia Mayor Indicted for Violating Federal Clean Water Act

Dept of Justice logo


  ROANOKE, Va. – A federal grand jury in Roanoke, Virginia has indicted James Howard Spencer, the Mayor of Glen Lyn, Virginia, for his alleged violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The CWA was enacted by Congress to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological quality of the nation’s waterways.

The indictment, returned under seal March 9, 2023 and unsealed following the defendant’s initial court appearance, charges Spencer with three counts of violating the CWA.

“The protection of our nation’s waters is critical to ensuring environmental justice for all the residents of the Western District of Virginia,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “When individuals – especially those in positions of authority –pollute our rivers and streams in violation of the law, our Office will hold them accountable.”

“The defendant abused his position of authority and violated the public’s trust by ordering public employees of Glen Lyn to illegally discharge raw sewage into the East River, a tributary of the New River,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Conrad. “EPA is committed to prosecuting those who choose to violate our environmental laws, especially those who hold a position of public trust such as Mayor Spencer.”

The indictment alleges that Spencer directed employees of the Town of Glen Lyn to pump sewage and other pollutants from a pump station located behind the Glyn Lyn Post Office into the East River, which is a perennial stream and tributary of the New River. Spencer took these alleged actions on three separate occasions, in the summer of 2019, December 2020, and again in June 2021.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh, Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Conrad made the announcement today.

The ongoing investigation is being jointly handled by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Virginia State Police.

Assistant U.S. Attorney and Environmental Justice Coordinator Michael Baudinet is prosecuting the case for the United States.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.