SAN DIEGO (CN) - An "Environmental Services" driver was sentenced Monday to six months in jail - time served - and ordered to pay $21,240 in restitution for dumping thousands of gallons of raw sewage on federal land in Imperial County.
Eric Russell, 35, of Las Vegas, Nev., has been in jail since June after he absconded, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
He dumped 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of raw sewage onto Bureau of Land Management land in January 2012, while driving a truck for All-in-One Environmental Services, of Havasu, Ariz.
BLM rangers found Russell stuck in a wash in his sewage tanker and "smelled a strong stench of sewage," the U.S. attorney said. The statement continued: "Russell, the driver of the truck, told the ranger that the trunk contained nothing but water, but he declined to take a sip of the 'water' himself."
A passenger in the truck "indicated that Russell's stepfather directed him to dump the sewage, and it was their practice to drive 10-15 miles outside of Blythe and dump waste on Red Cloud Road. BLM had to send a team to remediate the dump site, at a cost to the taxpayers of $21,244.19," prosecutors said.
Russell's stepfather, Dennis Johnson, pleaded guilty to illegal dumping and was sentenced to probation and a fine.
The U.S. attorney said: "Dumping sewage in the middle of nowhere is not only disgusting and harmful to the environment but it is a federal crime that is worthy of time in custody. These defendants couldn't be bothered to do the right thing, and now they are paying a price."
The maximum penalty for illegally dumping sewage is three years in prison and fines of $50,000 per day.
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