Trashing East Texas: Illegal Dump Could Lead To Multiple Felony Charges - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/18/05-Smith County

Trashing East Texas: Illegal Dump Could Lead To Multiple Felony Charges

For weeks we've been telling you of folks trashing East Texas -- dumping garbage, even appliances in some of our area's most picturesque locations.

The calls have poured in telling us and local law enforcement where illegal dumping is the worst. Friday, we followed Smith County's environmental investigator on his rounds, and we found trash problems he says are most certainly criminal.

We begin near the intersection of Highway 155 and FM 344 near Lake Palestine.

"I need your signature on the line there. This is not a plea of guilty," Danny Brasher tells the owner of a home on FM 344.  He's giving the homeowner two citations for illegal dumping and illegal burning.

The owner says this is his land, and it's not a dump, but Brasher says it's still illegal.

"I did get about six calls on this site this morning, and did come out and catch him doing the illegal burning," Brasher says.

It's just the first of the day.  A larger dump not far away is full of hazardous materials -- hazardous despite these bottles of oil being mostly empty.

"It's an intentional act, so it's a felony offense.  Just by throwing the bottles away," he says.

Brasher looks for clues as he digs through trash.  He finds his suspect by an address on a piece of mail.

"This person [addressed on the mail] is responsible for this getting here. That's right. And when I prosecute this like I will, once the judge sees my pictures on this, the judge is going to find them guilty for all of it. Not just this one piece."

More mail is found, Brasher says tying the dump, including an old gas tank with fluid inside, to a residence miles away.

"Again there's a felony charge. So far, we have two felony charges plus the amount of weight on the illegal dumping," Brasher says.

He photographs the evidence, and bags up the mail that looks to have been here up to a year. Brasher says he'll be paying his suspect a visit.

"It's three different felonies, and it's kind of embarassing if you go to prison for this and your cellmate asks you what you went to prison for and you say 'trash,' you wouldn't be very popular."

Brasher says you should never let anyone haul your trash away, unless they're part of a respected disposal company. Because he says, if it's dumped illegally, you're still responsible.

Reported by Morgan Palmer. 

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