BUFFALO, N.Y. (CN) – A small business owner sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for $65 million, claiming the EPA is trying to “crucify” him in an “extortion” campaign based on “concocted violations of the Clean Water Act.”
William Huntress sued the EPA in Federal Court, claiming the agency singled him out for 6 years in a campaign of “extortion,” harassment and intimidation, culminating in a “vindictive criminal indictment.”
“Defendants have wasted millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and tens of thousands of hours retaliating against Mr. Huntress and his companies by taking a harassment approach used by other EPA officials and patterned after the Romans entering Mediterranean villages and crucifying a few men to intimidate the other villagers into submission,” the complaint states. “The federal agents have sought to legally ‘crucify’ plaintiffs in an effort to retaliate against plaintiffs and to extort $2 million or more in penalties and other exactions to settle concocted violations of the Clean Water Act.”
Huntress claims the government lacks jurisdiction to regulate his converted cropland and an isolated wetland, and retaliated against him for filing a complaint against the agency. He sued the United States, the EPA and its alleged agents, Walter Mugdan, Phyllis Feinmark, David Pohle, Douglas McKenna, Robert Conway and William V. Lometti.
Huntress claims his reference to the Roman Empire is not analogical: it’s EPA policy.
“In April 2012, it was made public that the EPA regional administrator in 2010 was caught on tape explaining how they train their staff to take the same approach taken by Romans who would crucify men in Mediterranean towns to make examples of them and to scare others into compliance and submission,” the complaint states. “Defendants in this case have applied this type of outrageous barbaric enforcement policy against Mr. Huntress and the other plaintiffs.”
Huntress and his companies, Acquest Development, Acquest Transit and Acquest Wehrle, seeks injunctive relief and punitive damages for retaliation and violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.
They are represented by David Pfalzgraf Jr. with Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf, Cunningham & Coppola, of Buffalo.