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Baton Rouge man fights industrial pollution conspiracy charges

Louisiana laws do not classify the most serious crimes the same way other states or the federal government does. A specific number of offenses are considered felonies, including crimes of violence, repeat theft or DUI convictions.

Felony charges and convictions are associated with long-term penalties. The dividing line between misdemeanors and felony prison sentences is generally the one-year mark. Any criminal punishment with a maximum incarceration time below one year is usually a misdemeanor; anything above is a felony.

A 55-year-old Zachary man has been charged with falsifying documents and statements about the industrial waste coming from his Baton Rouge business. The defendant owns and operates a truck tank washing company. Federal prosecutors claim the man was dumping a lot more toxins in the city's sewer lines than he was permitted to do, in violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

Court papers accuse the businessman of taking $371,000 to dispose of millions of gallons contaminated water from industrial waste suppliers at the tank wash.

The tank washing company had a permit to dispose of the water used at the business, provided it was treated properly. The government alleges the owner, in a secret deal with industrial waste handlers, poured more than six million gallons of poisonous, untreated wastewater into city sewers over three years.

Discharges from the tank washing business were suspended in 2011 and 2012. Last year's ban followed local residents' complaints that they were sickened by chemical fumes near the defendant's business.

Federal investigators claim to have recorded calls between the defendant and three industrial waste suppliers. The other defendants pleaded guilty to similar charges, including the fabrication of documents to hide the toxic wastewater disposal.

Allegations of a federal felony can damage or ruin a defendant's life. The retention of a criminal attorney as early as legal action is indicated is imperative for a strong defense.

Source: The Advocate, "Zachary man indicted, accused of dumping industrial wastes into BR sewer system" Bill Lodge, Dec. 24, 2013

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