A Zachary man who owns a Baton Rouge business admitted Tuesday in federal court that he dumped unpermitted industrial wastes into the city-parish sewer system between 2009 and 2012 and lied to a grand jury about it.
Roger Joseph Dies, 55, faces up to 13 years in prison, along with substantial fines and possible restitution, following his guilty pleas to one count each of failure to report third-party wastewater discharges in violation of the federal Clean Water Act and obstruction of justice.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick did not set a sentencing date for Dies, owner and operator of Baton Rouge Tank Wash.
Dies’ attorney, John McLindon, stressed outside Dick’s courtroom that Dies did treat the industrial wastewater in question.
“No untreated water was put into this system,” he said.
Inside the courtroom, McLindon told Dick that a lawsuit the city-parish filed against Dies is ongoing. Dies has liability insurance, he noted.
“The fact that you have liability insurance does not in any way exonerate you from paying restitution,” the judge said to Dies.
An indictment returned in December by a Baton Rouge federal grand jury alleged Dies accepted $371,000 to dump more than 6.3 million gallons of unpermitted, untreated or undertreated industrial wastes into drains at his company’s main facility in the 4400 block of Plank Road.
All of the facility’s wastewater flows to the city-parish’s North Wastewater Treatment Plant on Woodpecker Street, the indictment states.
Baton Rouge Tank Wash is permitted to discharge water it uses to wash out truck tanks. The company was not allowed to accept tankloads of industrial wastes to dump into the sewer system without prior city-parish authorization.
Dies avoided payment of more than $24,600 in sewer-user fees by not reporting the full volume of his discharges, the grand jury alleged.
Raymond Marcel Jr., one of the men alleged to have paid Dies to accept secret shipments of industrial wastes, has already pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in a separate environmental crime involving an injection well in Assumption Parish. Marcel, of Berwick, is awaiting sentencing.
The two men are alleged to have agreed to fabricate false records indicating that tanker trucks sent by Marcel’s firm to Plank Road were empty vessels that would simply be washed out by Dies’ employees.
U.S. Attorney Walt Green said the wide-ranging investigation into corruption and fraud involving compliance with federal environmental laws is continuing.