BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Gemma Medile feels vindicated. After spending three months fighting a $500 citation for dumping an L.L. Bean package on a city-owned vacant lot in the Brooklyn neighborhood, the hearing examiner dismissed the fine.
“I’m very relieved,” she told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “I’ve probably spent more than 30 hours and lots of phone calls.”
Back in June, WJZ visited Medile at her home in Severna Park. She showed us where she throws out her trash. Even now, she still has no idea how it ended up 13 miles away on Freeman Street in Baltimore. She thinks it may have gotten attached to a trash truck and blown off.
She also has a theory that because she filled the package with trash, someone may have thought a valuable item was still inside, taken it, and then threw it out when they realized it was worthless.
“I’m not going to put anything with my name and address in the trash ever again,” Medile said.
At the hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes at the Environmental Control Board on North Charles Street, the city housing department investigator explained to Medile how he’s passionate about his job. He said the dozen investigators work hard responding to 311 calls.
The hearing examiner apologized to Medile but said Baltimore City was also victimized by the person who dumped the trash — and the hearing was the best way to resolve the dispute.
“They explained their only recourse is to go through the trash at a dumping site, retrieve all the names and addresses they can find and find those people and basically hope they pay if they’re guilty or come in and defend themselves,” she said. “I had hoped I would not have to take the day off to come here. I was hoping when I called the department months ago someone would say, ‘’That doesn’t make sense.’”
A week after the citation, WJZ found the green L.L. Bean bag still sitting in the lot at 533 Freeman. Today, it’s gone, but piles of garbage remain, an example of how persistent illegal dumping is in the city.
The problem gained national attention in July when President Trump lashed out at Rep. Elijah Cummings and tweeted that Baltimore was “dangerous and filthy,” and a “rat and rodent-infested mess.”
The city estimates 10,000 tons of trash are dumped in Baltimore every year. They use cameras to monitor the worst dumping grounds.
Inspired by the ordeal, Medile and her husband are working on a program they hope will help clean up the streets in Baltimore.
“I’ve learned something,” she said. “And I’m super relieved and happy today.”