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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 20, 2015

Two Men Sentenced for Clean Air and Clean Water Act Violations

SIOUX CITY, IOWA – An Iowan and a Nebraskan will each serve prison time for violating provisions of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Clean Water Act Violation

Michael J. Wolf, age 58, from Remsen, Iowa, received a sentence including six weekends in prison after a December 16, 2014, guilty plea to one count of knowingly discharging a pollutant into a waterway of the United States. The discharge resulted in a fish kill.  At the plea and sentencing hearings, the United States presented evidence that on October 23 and 24, 2012, Wolf, while he was the maintenance manager at Sioux-Preme Packing, intentionally discharged biological materials and agricultural wastes (e.g., blood, fecal material, animal guts, cleaning chemicals, etc.) from one of Sioux-Preme’s waste lagoons into a tributary of the West Branch of the Floyd River.

The discharge lasted more than 11 hours.  It fouled over 11 miles of river, downstream from the lagoon.  It killed over 190,058 fish of various species (with a value of $20,282.94) and caused the State of Iowa to expend more than $5,000 in response costs.  One witness to the fish kill described watching fish jumping out of the water and racing around to avoid the deadly plume.  Wolf lied to members of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Emergency Response team attempting to ameliorate the effects of the spill.  This delay likely worsened the effects of the spill.

Clean Air Act Violation

Larry Wolf, age 54, from Dakota City, Nebraska, received a sentence including a year and a day in prison after a December 17, 2014, guilty plea to one count of knowingly violating the work practice standards of the Clean Air Act by failing to thoroughly inspect the old -more-Sioux City YMCA to ascertain the amount of asbestos, and whether that amount was sufficient to subject the demolition project to regulation.

At the plea and sentencing hearings, the United States presented evidence that Wolf knew the building contained asbestos and regulated asbestos-containing material and that he had even received an asbestos abatement estimate for the building.

Despite knowing the old YMCA building contained asbestos, defendant directed friends, family, and others to, disturb, renovate, remove, and dispose the asbestos and regulated asbestos-containing material and help him personally do so.  Defendant took at least 19,514 pounds of scrap metal from the old YMCA and was paid at least $30,477.54 from one particular scrap yard for it.  Defendant boasted he had made $80,000.00 or more from the old YMCA in this way.  When defendant was questioned by Special Agents of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, he lied telling them he had only removed naked materials from the facility.

United States Attorney Kevin W. Techau commented: “Environmental crimes that involve polluting air and Iowa’s water are serious matters.  These cases show that violations of our environmental laws are taken very seriously because they impact our communities both now and in years to come.  These sentences show that if you commit environmental crimes you will be prosecuted.  I offer my congratulations to all of our partners in these cases.”

Sentencing

Michael J. Wolf was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett for his violation of the Clean Water Act.  He was sentenced to six weekends of imprisonment and a one-year term of probation.  A special assessment of $100 was imposed.

Larry Wolf was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett for his violation of the Clean Air Act.  He was sentenced to 12 months and one day imprisonment and a two-year term of supervised release following his imprisonment.  A special assessment of $100 was imposed.

Michael J. Wolf and Larry Wolf are not related.

These two cases were investigated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.

Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov.  The case file numbers are CR14-4091 (Michal J. Wolf), and CR14-4055 (Larry Wolf).

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Updated July 20, 2015