On July 6, Freedman Farms Inc. and its president, William B. Freedman, pleaded guilty in federal court in New Bern, N.C., to violating the Clean Water Act by dumping hog waste into a stream leading to the Waccamaw River, according to the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Freedman Farms pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act for discharging hog waste into Browder’s Branch, a tributary to the Waccamaw River, in December 2007. The hog waste was supposed to be directed to two lagoons for treatment and disposal. William Freedman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act for his role in the discharge.

“Owners and operators of concentrated animal feeding operations must comply with the nation’s Clean Water Act for the protection of America’s streams, wetlands and rivers,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice. “Freedman and his farm failed to do so and should be held accountable for polluting waterways and wetlands in Columbus County and the Waccamaw River watershed.” 


The Clean Water Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly or negligently discharge a pollutant into waters of the United States, including those with a significant connection to a traditional navigable water.

According to the plea agreement, the government and the corporate defendant jointly requested that the court sentence Freedman Farms to pay $1.5 million, serve a probation term of five years and publish a public apology. Under the plea agreement for William Freedman, the defendant faces up to one year in prison.