News and Press Releases



September 29, 2006


DENVER – Troy Eid, United States Attorney for the District of Colorado, and Lori A. Hanson, Special Agent In Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, announced ALBERT DAVID HAJDUK, age 44, of Fruita, Colorado, as well as LUXURY WHEELS O.E. PLATING, INC., of Grand Junction, were sentenced by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Lewis T. Babcock for illegally discharging chemical solutions into the sewer system, in violation of the Clean Water Act. HAJDUK was sentenced to serve 5 months in federal prison, followed by 5 months of home detention with electronic monitoring. LUXURY WHEELS was sentenced to serve 2 years probation, ordered to pay a $40,000 fine, as well as restitution totaling $350,000 to a city worker injured as a result of the company’s illegal discharge.

HAJDUK and LUXURY WHEELS were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on August 11, 2004. Both defendants pled guilty before Chief Judge Babcock on June 8, 2006.

According to the stipulated facts in the defendants’ plea agreements, as well as the indictment, LUXURY WHEELS was an electroplating business at 1440 Winters Avenue in Grand Junction, Colorado. The company used various chemicals for its electroplating process, including acids and caustics, as well as chemical solutions containing various metals. As part of doing business, LUXURY WHEELS maintained a waste treatment plant on-site that treated certain wastes.

The company was issued a permit by the City of Grand Junction to discharge wastewater into the sewer system, subject to specific environmental requirements under the Clean Water Act, including limitations on LUXURY WHEELS’ discharge of heavy metals; not discharging pollutants with a pH below 5.5; as well as not discharging pollutants which contribute toxic gases, vapors or fumes that may cause acute worker health or safety problems.

According to the indictment, beginning in May 1999, and continuing through September 2003, HAJDUK and LUXURY WHEELS conspired and agreed to commit violations of the Clean Water Act, including the knowing and negligent discharge of pollutants into the sewer system. HAJDUK would attempt to treat electroplating process wastes at the company’s treatment plant even when such attempted treatment would overburden the treatment system, render treatment ineffective, and cause the discharge of wastewater that violated the company’s permit. The defendants would also dilute process wastes in order to treat them, even though such dilution was in violation of applicable regulations.

The defendants employed an outside plumbing business to “hydrojet” the sewer service line connecting LUXURY WHEELS’ waste treatment plant to the main sewer line in order to remove “chemical sludge” blockages, thereby concealing the company’s illegal discharges. The defendants would also attempt to detect when city wastewater employees were sampling their wastewater in attempts to interfere with efforts to obtain representative wastewater samples from the business.

On July 25, 2002, LUXURY WHEELS negligently discharged a pollutant into the waste water collection system which generated a toxic gas. At the time of the illegal discharge, a city worker was working on a monitoring device. The toxic fumes injured the worker, causing respiratory problems and other injuries.

“The Department of Justice will pursue environmental criminals who threaten the public health for personal greed,” U.S. Attorney Eid said. “The Clean Water Act was flagrantly violated in this case, and criminal penalties are warranted. The court's sentence justly includes incarcerating Mr. Hajduk for his crime and ordering Luxury Wheels to pay restitution to the innocent victim.”

“The defendants were responsible for illegal waste water discharges which injured a city worker at the treatment plant and for providing false information about the illegal discharges. Today’s sentences makes it clear that EPA will vigorously seek to prosecute companies and individuals whose illegal actions put human health and the environment at risk," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.”

The case was investigated by Special Agent Robert Driscoll of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigations Division, with thorough and professional support from the regulators for the City of Grand Junction. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Davies.