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Press Release

Chemist Sentenced For Illegally Abandoning Laboratory Full of Hazardous Chemicals in St. Clair County

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois

Lawrence D. Rutledge, 57, of Belleville, Illinois, has been sentenced to five years of federal 
probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $335,934.87 to the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (“U.S. EPA”) for clean-up expenses associated with his illegal storage of 
hazardous waste in St. Clair County, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Steven D. 
Weinhoeft, announced today. Rutledge pleaded guilty to the charge in July.

In 1997, Rutledge started a business called Advanced Asymmetrics, Inc., to synthesize specialty 
chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry. The business was located inside a commercial building at 
109 South Kossuth Street in Millstadt, Illinois, in close proximity to a residential area and a 
senior living home. Over time, Rutledge accumulated numerous containers of chemicals and chemical 
waste at the Millstadt facility. Sometime around 2011, Rutledge stopped paying the county property 
taxes on the Millstadt facility, and over the next few years, the electrical service and the water 
service (both water supply and sewer) to the facility were shut off.

In August 2015, employees of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (“Illinois EPA”) and the 
U.S. EPA entered the facility and discovered hundreds of containers with labels indicating the 
presence of acids, caustics, and other chemicals, as well as hazardous waste. Some of the metal 
containers had rusted, and crystallization had started to occur on metal surfaces. Some had even 
fallen over and broken open. Sodium cyanide, which is extremely toxic, was stored within one inch 
of a container containing acid, presenting the potential formation of cyanide gas. Investigators 
also discovered a container labelled as a shock-sensitive picric acid, which is highly explosive.

“The defendant’s abandonment of hazardous chemicals created a highly dangerous situation,” said 
Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Martinez of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Illinois. 
“Companies should take notice that EPA and our law enforcement partners will enforce our hazardous 
waste laws that protect our communities and the environment.”

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. EPA – Criminal Investigation Division and the Illinois 
EPA – Collinsville Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney William E. Coonan and U.S.
EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel David P. Mucha prosecuted the case.

Updated December 6, 2019