Burley Man's Conviction Upheld for Violating Safe Drinking Water Act
BOISE – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed the district court's 2009 trial conviction of Cory Ledeal King for injecting “fluids” into deep wells without a permit, in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The Circuit also affirmed King's conviction of making a materially false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of the United States.
King, 54, of Burley, Idaho, was the manager and part owner of a large-scale farming and cattle operation in southern Idaho called Double C Farms Partnership. During the three-day trial, the jury heard evidence that in 2005, King had ordered workers to inject excess surface fluids into at least four deep agricultural irrigation wells on numerous occasions. The jury also heard evidence that King lied to a State of Idaho Department of Agriculture inspector, who was inspecting the facility. King was found guilty of four counts of violating the Safe Drinking Water Act and one count of making false statements. He was sentenced in December 2009 to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
The King case is one of the first successful prosecutions under the SDWA in the United States. In addition, the Ninth Circuit's decision is the first appellate decision in the country to address the constitutionality of the statute under the Commerce Clause. The Court held that drinking water is an article in commerce that Congress can regulate to prevent contamination. The Court further noted that “underground fluid injection can have disastrous consequences for drinking water and, in turn, for human health.”
King's case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, Idaho State Department of Agriculture, Idaho Department of Water Resources, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and the Idaho Attorney General's Office.
To read the Ninth Circuit's opinion, go to: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2011/10/03/09-30442.pdf.
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