United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Seattle Business Owner Convicted Of Environmental Crimes And Witness Tampering In Industrial Dumping Incident
Defendant Directed Dumping of Chemicals that Resulted in Chlorine Gas Exposure
PATRICK DOOLEY, 59, the owner of Bargains Inc., aka AAA Liquidating Services Inc., was convicted today in U.S. District Court of three counts of Clean Water Act violations and one count of witness tampering related to an August 2010 hazardous materials dumping incident. The jury convicted the defendant following a four day trial. DOOLEY faces up to three years in prison on each Clean Water Act violation and 10 years in prison on the felony witness tampering count. Sentencing before Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman is scheduled for April 27, 2012 at 10 a.m.
According to records in the case and testimony at trial, in August 2010, DOOLEY directed a juvenile employee to dispose of surplus commercial chemical cleaning products by dumping them down a toilet at the company’s South Seattle warehouse. Acting under DOOLEY’s supervision, the juvenile employee proceeded to dispose of multiple five-gallon containers of liquid bleach and an acidic laundry solution. DOOLEY failed to provide any personal protective equipment nor instruct the juvenile employee to take any precautions. The two chemicals reacted in the toilet bowl to produce chlorine gas of a sufficient concentration to cause immediate physical symptoms. Once exposed to the chlorine gas, the juvenile employee got out of the warehouse. He continued experiencing breathing difficulties, nausea and other symptoms of chlorine gas exposure. Emergency medical personnel responded and transported the employee to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released.
DOOLEY instructed another employee to falsely characterize his employment status and compensation arrangement to law enforcement officers in an attempt to obstruct the federal investigation. At various times following the incident, DOOLEY claimed that the 17-year-old juvenile had simply decided to clean the toilet on his own, and had not been acting on instructions to dispose of the chemicals.
The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from Seattle Public Utilities and the Washington State Department of Ecology. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Diggs and Jim Oesterle.