Friday, 19 July 2024

Man receives fine, probation in dumping case


Painting materials from James Re's business were found dumped near Morrison Creek in February of 2007. Photo by Lenny Matthews.


LUCERNE – On Tuesday a Lucerne man received a $1,000 fine and a year's probation for his part in an illegal dumping case involving Morrison Creek.

James Re, 46, a professional painter, reached a plea agreement with the Lake County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday morning, before his trial was scheduled to begin, said Deputy District Attorney Daniel Moffatt.

In early February 2007, painting materials from Re's business were found dumped in the beleaguered Morrison Creek, said Moffatt. The creek has been a frequent target of illegal dumpers.

Lake County News was unable to contact Re's defense attorney, Ernest Krause, for comment.

According to a witness statement submitted as part of the case, Lucerne resident Lenny Matthews reported the dump site after first seeing it on Feb. 9, 2007.

Less than a week later, on Feb. 15, 2007, Matthews returned to the site and found newly dumped materials – including bags of trash containing paint cans as well as exposed, unbagged cans of paint, and oil seeping into the ground. The following day an acquaintance of Matthews' went to the site and found a piece of paper with a name and address on it, which belonged to Re.

A Fish and Game warden eventually cited Re, said Moffatt.

Re was charged with three counts related to dumping toxic materials in a state water body, with one of the charges relating to harmful effects on wildlife.

Moffatt said Re pleaded no contest to all three of those counts.

A fourth count stemmed from the commercial quantity of the paint that was dumped, said Moffatt.

Re claimed he had paid a friend to properly dispose of the materials for him, according to Moffatt.

That friend was 49-year-old Michael Collins Sr., who was found dead on Robinson Road on Jan. 28. Collins was found with a pickup load of trash and a shovel, and appeared to have been dumping materials when he died.

With Collins no longer a possibility as a witness, Moffatt said the fourth charge was dropped, because it couldn't be proved that all the materials belonged to Re.

Moffatt said the case was helped by the fact that they found billing statements amongst the dumped materials that came from Re's business.

Illegal dumping cases aren't common when it comes to prosecution, said Moffatt, because they're hard to prove unless – as in Re's case – evidence of who owns the dumped materials can be found.

“This is the first kind of dumping case that I can think of,” Moffatt said.

Re must pay a $1,080 fine and will serve one year's probation, said Moffatt.

Although Moffatt said Re cleaned up the dumped materials after they were found, the plea agreement included a stipulation reserving the District Attorney's Office's right to hold a future hearing for restitution costs if the county has to do any additional cleanup.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



The materials allegedly had been dumped there by a friend of Re's. Photo by Lenny Matthews.




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