Confluence Consulting, Inc. Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on September 20, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, CONFLUENCE CONSULTING, INC., a business based in Bozeman, pled guilty to a violation of the Clean Water Act by negligent discharge of pollutants. Sentencing has been set for December 20, 2010.
According to an offer of proof filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the government would have proved the following at trial:
On January 31, 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers granted a Nationwide Permit to Mr. Joe Billion authorizing stream bank stabilization work on Billion's property abutting the East Gallatin River near Bozeman, Montana. The Permit stated that "[a]ny activity
Confluence Consulting, Inc. submitted the Permit application to the Corps on Billion's behalf, and Confluence Consulting was sent a copy of the Permit issued by the Corps. Confluence Consulting had been hired by Billion to manage the stream bank stabilization work. James Lovell was Confluence's project manager. James Lovell is the owner and registered agent for Confluence.
On March 30, 2007 Doug Chapman of Montana Aircraft, Inc. took aerial photographs of the Billion property. These photos show concrete blocks diverting the East Gallatin River. Chapman's photos also show a trackhoe in a cofferdam constructed within the river. The
East Gallatin River were not authorized by the Permit. On April 19, 2007, the Gallatin Conservation District held a meeting wherein the District discussed a complaint about Confluence's
Billion property. The minutes for the meeting contained a statement by James Lovell admitting Confluence "did not have a 310 permit for the concrete barriers."
Mr. Joe Billion told EPA Special Agent Brandon Solari that the plan was to remove the dams every day and that the dams were in the river three days. Confluence told the Gallatin Conservation District that the dams were left in the river overnight twice. On May 10, 2007, Special Agent Solari called James Lovell to discuss the cofferdam and the use of concrete blocks. Lovell told Solari that the dams were placed in the river for three days and then removed. He further stated that the dams were needed for Confluence to perform their job, and it was at his direction that the dams were built.
CONFLUENCE CONSULTING, INC. faces possible penalties of a $25,000 fine per day of violation and 1 year supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environmental Protection Agency.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.