Shore waste case dentist tries avoiding jail

May 8, 2009 4:42:22 AM PDT
A successful Pennsylvania dentist accused of dumping medical debris at the Jersey shore is due in a New Jersey courtroom Friday.

Thomas McFarland Jr. of Wynnewood, Pa., will learn whether he'll be accepted into a program that would allow him to avoid a criminal conviction and prison time.

Prosecutors don't want McFarland admitted into the pretrial intervention program.

His lawyer has said prosecutors are concerned about the impact the medical waste had on beaches. Avalon and several other shore towns had to close for several days leading to the Labor Day weekend last year.

McFarland was charged with unlawful discharge of a pollutant and unlawful disposal of regulated medical waste, both third-degree crimes. McFarland, who owns a house in the Avalon Manor section of Middle Township, allegedly took his small motor boat into Townsend Inlet at the north end of Avalon on Aug. 22, 2008 and dumped a bag of waste from his dental practice in Wynnewood, Pa.

According to a search warrant, police say Dr. Thomas McFarland, of Wynnewodd, admitted to Avalon police that he dumped the medical waste in Townsend Inlet between Sea Isle City and Avalon.

The court document indicates he used a small boat docked behind the house to take the waste out and dump it.

Detectives used serial numbers on the waste that washed up to narrow their search to 13 dental practices on the east coast. McFarland's was one of them.

Other dentists tell Action News that it costs them only about $75 a month to get rid of their medical waste products. The needles and other waste forced Avalon to close several beaches in the days leading up to the Labor Day weekend, and left vacationers afraid to go near the water.

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