FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEENR
TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2000(202) 514-2008
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
COURT HANDS OUT LONGEST-EVER SENTENCES FOR
SAFE WATER DRINKING ACT VIOLATIONS
WASHINGTON -- In the longest sentences ever imposed under the Safe Water Drinking Act, a federal court today sentenced Koteswara Attaluri to nearly five years in prison and Mac DeWayne Overholt to more than seven years in prison for a conspiracy to dump more than 500,000 gallons of petroleum-contaminated wastewater into underground wells.
Senior U.S. District Judge H. Dale Cook in Tulsa also sentenced Attaluri's company, Allied Environmental Services, Inc. to five years probation. All three defendants also were ordered to pay $1.27 million in restitution for clean up costs.
In October 1999, a federal jury convicted Allied Environmental and Attaluri, president of Allied Environmental, for conspiring to violate federal clean water and hazardous waste laws and committing fraud. At trial federal prosecutors identified Attaluri as the leader of a scheme to illegally dump the wastewater into injection wells in Oklahoma. The jury also convicted Overholt -- owner of a trucking company that transported the wastewater -- for the same conspiracy and fraud charges, as well as criminal charges under the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
To protect underground drinking water sources, the Safe Drinking Water Act prohibits, among other conduct, the unauthorized use of injection wells that are associated with oil and gas production. Allied, an environmental consulting firm in Overland Park, Kan., was involved in the removal of underground storage tanks and petroleum-tainted wastewater from military facilities in Kansas and Missouri.
Evidence at trial established the Attaluri promised Allied Environmental customers that the wastewater would be properly disposed of. Instead, Attaluri arranged to have the wastewater transported by Overholt and another trucking company to Oklahoma, where it was improperly injected into injection wells or transported to an abandoned tank farm
The scheme occurred over a 15-month period during 1994 and 1995 and involved the illegal disposal of more than 500,000 gallons of wastewater contaminated with refined petroleum products such as diesel fuel and kerosene. The evidence showed that some of the wastewater transported to Oklahoma also contained human fecal material, dead birds, and solvents, including ortho-dichlorobenzene. In addition, when Attaluri and Overholt learned that they were being investigated by law enforcement officials in mid-1995, they increased their efforts to conceal the scheme, including creating fictitious shipping documents.
"We will not tolerate criminal disregard for public health and the environment. These stiff sentences show that clean water and hazardous waste laws will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Divsion; the Department of Defense, Criminal Investigative Services; and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. It was prosecuted by United States Attorney Stephen Lewis of the Northern District of Oklahoma and Senior Trial Attorney Andrew Goldsmith of Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department.