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Mayor will push for restitution in sewer break

Date: 8/16/2011

Aug. 17, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

AGAWAM — Mayor Richard Cohen declared “the DA will pursue what he has to and we will pursue what we have to as a town to get full restitution” following the Aug. 10 Grand Jury indictment of Joseph O’Malley of West Brookfield for his involvement in the March 2011 sewer break in the Meadows section of town.

Cohen said to date Agawam had incurred $138,065.41 in expenses related to the investigation and clean-up of the break, which dumped 720,000 gallons of raw sewage in a protected wetlands area during an overnight period from March 17 to 18.

“We will pursue [restitution] through every avenue allowed by law so taxpayers do not pay for this because I will not allow it,” Cohen said. “The town is a victim [in this crime].”

According to an Aug. 11 press release from the office of Hampden County District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni, O’Malley was charged with violating sections of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, the Massachusetts Clean Water Act and of injury to real or personal property of the Town of Agawam. He is scheduled to appear before the Hampden County Superior Court for arraignment within two weeks of his indictment date.

Cohen praised the quick work of members of the Agawam Police Department on the morning of March 18, when an excavator was found partially submerged near a damaged sewer pipe on land adjacent to O’Malley’s business, Xtreme Paintball.

“Through the Police [Department’s] thorough investigation, we were able to get [this case] to the DA’s office very quickly,” Cohen said.

He also commended the town’s Department of Public Works for their rapid response to, and cleanup of, the spill.

Information provided by the District attorney’s office also indicated that staff from the Wetlands and Waterways program was also integral to the investigation of the incident.

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