State seeks sentence review for Greene County illegal dumper
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The state has asked a Greene County judge to reconsider the probation sentence he imposed on a businessman earlier this month for illegally dumping millions of gallons of wastewater across six counties, saying it was far too lenient to send a message that willfully polluting the environment is taken seriously in Pennsylvania.
Greene County Common Pleas Judge Farley Toothman sentenced Robert Allan Shipman, 50, owner of Allan's Waste Water Service, to seven years of probation and 1,750 hours of community service. The judge also ordered him to pay $257,316 in restitution, a $100,000 fine and another $25,000 to the attorney general's office.
But prosecutors said Mr. Shipman deserved to go to jail and that the judge made errors in granting him leniency, including considering his charitable works, personal tragedy in his family and the fact that he has sold his company and cannot work in the wastewater business again.
Sentencing guidelines called for 16 months in prison.
In a motion for reconsideration, the attorney general's office noted that the judge said the case was a "clarion call" to all those who would pollute the state that such conduct will be punished. Probation does not meet the definition of a "clarion call," the attorney general's office said.
"To the contrary," wrote Amy Carnicella, a deputy attorney general, "a probationary sentence will have absolutely no deterrent effect and sends a clear message to the business community, including the oil and gas industry, that enforcement of environmental crimes is little more than the cost of doing business."
Mr. Shipman pleaded guilty earlier this year to theft by deception, receiving stolen property, tampering with public records, conspiracy and other counts related to the illegal dumping.
The attorney general's office said he and his company orchestrated a scheme to dump gas drilling wastewater and sludge into streams and onto business properties in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties between 2003 and 2009.
First Published June 26, 2012 12:34 am