SAN DIEGO (CN) - The owner of a waste-disposal site at California's biggest sand dunes admitted he illegally dumped "potentially millions of gallons of untreated human waste and sewage" at Glamis Dunes, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Michael J. Mamelli Sr., 63, of Newport Beach, and his company Glamis Dunes Storage, pleaded guilty to unlawful injection of pollutants, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and fines of up to $750,000, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Glamis Dunes, part of the Imperial Sand Dunes, in Imperial County, stretch for more than 40 miles along the Mexico border, averaging 5 miles wide. They are a favored place for off-roaders.
Mamelli admitted in court that when he got a conditional use permit from Imperial County in 2006 to install and operate a 20,000-gallon hold tank for RV waste he promised to haul the human waste and gray water to a treatment plant.
"The permit specifically prohibited any underground leach system attached to the holding tank," the U.S. attorney said.
But Mamelli admitted that in 2010 he hired a contractor to build a leach field on his property and install a pump to it from the RV holding tank, and conceal it under gravel. He then pumped the waste from the holding tanks to the illegal leach field.
Mamelli agreed to forfeit $50,000 and pay restitution to the Bureau of Land Management and the Imperial County Department of Environmental Health to restore the site.
Mamelli and his company will be sentenced on Feb. 17, 2015.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.