Friday, November 21, 2014

STATE NEWS: Jackson County Property Owner Pleads Guilty to Clean Water Act Violation

TOPEKA, KAN. – A man who owns property in Jackson County, Kan., pleaded guilty Friday to violating the federal Clean Water Act, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Rodney Heinen, 38, Dawson, Neb., pleaded guilty to one count of discharging pollutants into a stream without a permit. In his plea, he admitted he caused earthen fill and wood debris to be placed in streams flowing through properties he owns in Jackson County.

A regulatory specialist with the Corps of Engineers discovered the violations on one of Heinen’s properties on Feb. 2, 2012. Heinen refused to allow the Corps of Engineers access to the property to make an environmental assessment. The violation affected several unnamed tributaries to Straight Creek, which drains into the Delaware River, which is classified as a Traditionally Navigable Water.

In 2013, the Corps of Engineers found a similar violation on another property in Jackson County owned by Heinen. The violation affected two unnamed tributaries to North Cedar Creek, which drains into the Delaware River.

Sentencing is set for Feb. 6. The government is recommending a sentence of five years supervised probation and a fine between $20,000 and $150,000. The Environmental Protection Agency investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rich Hathaway is prosecuting.