Trashing East Texas: Felony Charges Against Couple For Illegal Dumping

For weeks, we've been showing you some of the ugliest places in East Texas. They're ugly, because someone intentionally dumped trash, or even appliances.

The laws against it are tougher than ever. About two weeks ago, a large dump site in southern Smith County was investigated by law enforcement. Now, those accused of creating the huge mess are behind bars.

On a piece of land near Lake Palestine, household trash, an old TV, and even a gas tank from a car were strewn about. There was hundreds of pounds of garbage. Also, there were pieces of mail with names and an address.

To Smith County Environmental Investigator Danny Brasher, the dump now had a name tag. And with the address, he had a direction to go: from Lake Palestine clear across Smith County to the home of Robert and Glenda Shields near Lindale. They are Brasher's suspects he visited Tuesday.

Det. Brasher: "Glenda, I'm Detective Danny Brasher with Smith County. I have a felony warrant for your arrest."

Glenda Shields: "For what?"

Brasher: "For the crime of illegal dumping."

Brasher also had a felony warrant for illegal transport of solid waste. The suspect's excuse: the trash was stolen.

Shields: "That was my stuff that was stolen off of [Highway] 14!"

Brasher: "Stuff that was stolen? Did you make a report on it?"

Shields: "No."

Brasher later tells us, "That would have been the first thing I'd done if I had something stolen. I would have made a report on it anyway. She said that divorce papers were involved. That's a legal document. Why not report that stolen?"

Brasher and his backup then went to arrest Robert Shields at his place of business.

Brasher tells Robert Shields of the illegal dumpsite, "It has all of your stuff in it -- yours and your wife's."

Brasher says, "Their excuses aren't going to hold any weight at all. Their trash still had all their information in it."

He says these arrests aren't just an example. This is his job every day -- to catch those accused of trashing East Texas.

"Don't do it. Because if you do, look right over your shoulder, because I'm right behind you," Brasher warns.

Each suspect is charged with two felony counts. Each count has a possible two-year prison sentence. The crimes are felonies because of the potentially hazardous waste found at the dump site, and the sheer weight of it, estimated at more than 500 pounds.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.