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Former Environmental Coordinator For Moline Manufacturing Facility Charged With Clean Water Act Offenses Concerning Industrial Wastewater

May 21, 2009

Rock Island, Ill. – A grand jury returned a 26-count indictment yesterday charging Leroy Hill with felony offenses under the Clean Water Act for violating the terms of an industrial wastewater treatment program approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The charges include making false statements and causing false statements in reports made to the City of Moline concerning samples of wastewater discharged to Moline’s sewage treatment plant. Hill allegedly committed these offenses while he was employed as the Environmental Coordinator at John Deere’s Seeding and Cylinder facility at Moline. Hill, 58, of the 2100 block of West 58th Street, Davenport, Iowa, will make his initial appearance in federal court in Rock Island, Illinois on a date yet to be set by the U.S. District Court.

According to the indictment, John Deere manufactured farm machinery and equipment cylinders at the Seeding and Cylinder facility on River Drive in Moline, which generated wastewater containing heavy metal pollutants, including chromium, nickel, copper, lead and zinc. The indictment alleges that under a permit issued by the City of Moline, John Deere was to sample and analyze the wastewater being discharged from the wastewater pre-treatment system at that facility to the Moline Sewage Treatment Plant, and then report the test results to the City of Moline.

The indictment charges that from the year 2000 through February 2005, Hill instituted a pattern and practice of failing to report to Moline all of the wastewater discharge samples taken at the Seeding and Cylinder facility. The indictment further alleges that the samples Hill withheld included reports of wastewater discharges to the City of Moline that contained heavy metal pollutants which exceeded the maximum levels allowed under Deere’s permit. As alleged, known discharges of wastewater from the Seeding and Cylinder facility which exceeded allowable levels of heavy metal pollutants required Deere to verbally notify the City of Moline within 24 hours. According to the indictment, Deere was also required to provide written notice to Moline of such within five working days. The indictment specifically alleges that Hill was responsible for making those reports to Moline, and that he knowingly failed to notify the City of Moline of violations on 23 separate occasions from May 14, 2004 through December 21, 2004.

Further, the indictment charges Hill with making a false statement on or about September 14, 2004, when he allegedly certified reports to Moline as being “true, accurate and complete,” when Hill actually knew that they were not; he was allegedly aware that water samples for the preceding four-month period reflecting violations of Deere’s permit had not been included. Hill is also charged with causing another individual to do the same on or about January 13, 2005, in relation to the water samples for the four-month period preceding that date.

“Municipalities must be provided with accurate and truthful information about what is in the industrial wastewater being routed to them for treatment before it is released into our nation’s waterways,” said Rodger A. Heaton, United States Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to ensuring that environmental laws are vigorously enforced.”

If convicted, the penalty for each violation of the Clean Water Act is up to three years imprisonment and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $50,000 per day of the violation. The penalty for making a false statement and for causing a clean water act false statement is up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Cannon is prosecuting the case, with assistance from Crissy Pellegrin of EPA’s Regional Counsel’s Office in Chicago. The charges result from the investigation conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of EPA.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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