Men fined $20,000 for illegal handling of medical waste

Monday, July 24, 2006

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Two men have been ordered to pay $20,000 in fines for storing infectious medical waste in a Columbia home.

During a hearing Friday in Boone County Circuit Court, Majed El-Dweik, 40, of Columbia was ordered to pay $5,000 to the state, while Moumen Kuziez of Baldwin was fined $15,000.

Investigators with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources say the men were trying to develop a waste-hauling business and found it was cheaper to break the rules.

"This was an example of careless handling, storage and transportation of infectious hazardous wastes," said Scott Holste, a spokesman for Attorney General Jay Nixon.

Authorities began investigating in October 2002 after contractors saw containers marked as biohazards inside a home El-Dweik owned.

Authorities ordered licensed handlers to haul away the waste. Instead, unlicensed handlers from Kuziez's M.W.A. Enterprises and another company illegally hauled the waste away and destroyed it in Arkansas.

El-Dweik pleaded guilty in April 2003 to two misdemeanor charges of illegal disposition and management of hazardous waste. He received a suspended sentence and two years' probation.

Tom Mingus, El-Dweik's attorney, described the civil judgment as satisfactory for his client's role.

"My client's not involved with the business," Mingus said. "He is just an employee of the company."

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