U.S. V. Sinskey & Kumm

*/ Storm drain into a creek. Courtesy of EPA.
Following a July, 1996 jury trial, the defendants Sinskey, senior vice president of the John Morrell meat packing plant in Sioux Falls, N.D., and Kumm, the plant engineer of Morrell, were convicted of twelve and eight Clean Water Act (CWA) violations, respectively, for discharging waste from the plant in violation of Morrell’s CWA permit and for rendering inaccurate a monitoring method.  Sinskey was sentenced to 24 months in prison and a $5,000 fine, and Kumm was sentenced to six months in prison with work release benefits, six months of home confinement, a $3,000 fine, and $8,000 in restitution.

In July, 1997, the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions.   Sinskey, 119 F.3d 712 (8th Cir. 1997).   The decision is significant because reaffirmed that the term "knowingly” in the CWA means that the government must prove that the defendant had knowledge of the underlying conduct and not that the defendant knowingly violated the law or the permit. 

The Morrell company pled guilty in February 1996 to six counts of conspiracy and CWA violations and was sentenced in May 1997 to a $ 3 million fine, which included a $1 million payment to an environmental trust fund to cleanup the Big Sioux River.


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Updated April 13, 2015

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