State wants jail sentence for Shipman's illegal wastewater dumping
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The state wants a Greene County judge to reconsider the probation sentence he imposed on a businessman for illegally dumping millions of gallons of wastewater across six counties, saying the penalty was far too lenient for such a large-scale environmental crime.
Greene County Common Pleas Judge Farley Toothman earlier this month 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 to send a message that environmental crimes will be taken seriously in Pennsylvania.
Sentencing guidelines called for a range of nine to 16 months in prison.
In a motion for reconsideration filed in Greene County on Monday, the attorney general's office said Judge Toothman granted Mr. Shipman leniency after improperly considering his charitable works, a personal tragedy in his family and the fact that he sold his company and cannot work in the wastewater business again.
The attorney general's office also noted that the judge described the case as a "clarion call" to all those who would pollute the state. But probation, prosecutors said, does not meet the definition of a "clarion call."
"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 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 between 2003 and 2009 to dump gas drilling wastewater and sludge into streams and onto business properties in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Prosecutors said the dumping polluted Tom's Run, Rush Run, Morris Run, Dunkard Creek and Pigeon Run.
In fashioning a sentence, however, the judge said the attorney general could not quantify the amount of damage.
Ms. Carnicella said that's because Mr. Shipman hid what he was doing from the Department of Environmental Protection for seven years.
"Nonetheless," wrote Ms. Carnicella, "the damage caused by unleashing thousands of gallons of toxic waste into the environment will have a lasting effect that can never be properly assessed or remediated."
First Published June 27, 2012 12:00 am