Biloxi Sewage Case Ends With Fine Against Motel Owner

City prosecutor Joy Goundas used eight witnesses to explain how Dominic Bui's Super 8 Motel was re-routing raw sewage into a Biloxi storm drain. The sewage spill forced the state to close the beach near Rodenburg Avenue between June 18th and July 3rd.

After court, Bui said he was sorry for his mistake.

"I apologize for the city and all citizens and visitors who lost the beach for what happened," he said.

According to court testimony, here's what did happen. A storm drain south of Iberville Drive was where Biloxi engineers first noticed gray slime seeping into the Mississippi Sound. They followed the line north and then west, and ended up behind the Super 8 Motel. In court, Bobby Blackmon testified that he spotted a broken lift station on the motel property. The sewer line had a hose rigged to it.

"It looked like the dry toilet paper and everything was overflowing out of the lift station, into the city storm drain," Blackmon testified.

The city quickly realized the rigged system was pumping pollution into the Mississippi Sound. Biloxi ordered Dominic Bui to fix the lift station. He did, but not until after the state closed the beach across from Bui's motel because the sewage posed a health risk.

Joy Goundas was Biloxi prosecutor in this case.

"It's an egregious offense," she said after the verdict. "I'm happy that he took immediate action to change it. Very, very sorry it ever happened, because of the potential for danger to others."

The judge could have sentenced Dominic Bui to jail time. Instead, he levied a $1,000 fine against the Super 8 operator. And he ordered Bui to reimburse the city for any expenses it incurred while investigating the sewage spill. Those charges will be added up at a July 23rd court hearing.

James Farrior represented Bui.

"We're pleased with the ruling at this point," Farrior said. "We'll make the final determination later as to whether or not we're going to appeal."

Dominic Bui's legal battles may be just beginning. Representatives of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA attended the hearing. Both agencies say there's a possibility state and federal charges could be filed against Bui if they determine he violated the clean water act.