Man pleads guilty to Vacherie pollution charges

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 9, 2013

LAPLACE – A former Ascension Parish resident was sentenced this week for illegally discharging wastes from the Armant Environmental Services plant, a now-closed wastewater treatment facility in Vacherie.
Jeffrey Dabadie, 44, formerly of Bay St. Louis, Miss., pleaded guilty to three felony counts of knowingly violating the facility’s Louisiana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Dabadie was the plant manager of AES.
Judge Alvin Turner Jr. of the 23rd Judicial District Court of Louisiana sentenced Dabadie to one year of home incarceration. Dabadie’s home incarceration will be electronically monitored. The case was prosecuted by District Attorney Ricky Babin of the 23rd Judicial District’s District Attorney’s Office and DEQ Criminal Investigation Division Attorney Mike Daniels, in his capacity as a special assistant district attorney.
Dabadie was arrested by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Criminal Investigation Division in June 2009. After a lengthy investigation by the DEQ, the Louisiana Environmental Crimes Task Force and DEQ inspectors found that he had routinely dumped loads of untreated wastewater on the ground, bypassing the treatment facility at AES. Environmental scientists from DEQ took soil samples on the property and determined there were chemicals related to oil and petroleum products around broken pipes on the ground.
In June 2011, AES and its owner, Charles Toth Jr., pleaded guilty and were sentenced for similar violations. AES was ordered to pay $150,000 in fines. As a special condition of probation, the plant was also ordered to pay $15,000 to the DEQ for costs of its investigation; $10,000 to Keep Ascension Beautiful; $10,000 to Keep St. James Beautiful; and $10,000 to Keep Assumption Beautiful.
AES was placed on supervised probation for five years and ordered to remediate the site to the satisfaction of the DEQ.
Toth was sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine and two years of unsupervised probation. The former AES site has since been cleaned up.
“DEQ, along with its state and local partners, will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who allows or engages in illegal dumping, disposal or discharge within the state,” said DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch. “These violations are conducted by individuals who show a blatant disregard for our public health and natural environment, so we encourage anyone with information on illegal activity to contact DEQ and local law enforcement so that we may initiate an investigation as soon as possible.”