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Ex-fugitive pleads guilty in San Diego water pollution

August 13, 2009 |  5:58 pm

Smith A man who was extradited to San Diego from Malta on water-pollution charges pleaded guilty Thursday to dumping pollutants into San Diego Bay while repairing a boat in 2006.

Robert Fred Smith, 45, admitted in federal court that tiling concrete, paint and rust were dumped into the bay. Smith was brought back to San Diego under a new extradition treaty between the U.S. and Malta and a new get-tough attitude by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Smith faces a possible five years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 26. A co-defendant, Joseph Anthony O'Connor, remains in Malta, awaiting extradition. The pair allegedly fled there while under investigation in the United States.

—Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Robert Fred Smith

Credit: Environmental Protection Agency