General Crime

* Mark Guinn has been sentenced to one year and nine months in prison for illegally dumping dredged materials into the Sacramento River

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A former tugboat company manager has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to one year and nine months in prison for illegally dumping dredged materials into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Mark Guinn, 42, of Longview, Wash., was formerly the general manager of the Northern California operations of Brusco Tug & Barge Inc. He was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who also ordered him to serve 200 hours of community service after his release. Guinn was convicted by a jury in Illston’s court in May of one count of dumping dredged materials into the delta near Winter Island, northeast of Pittsburg, on Jan. 7, 2007, and one count of conspiring to pollute the San Francisco Bay between 2003 and 2007. Both crimes were violations of the U.S. Clean Water Act. Brusco Tug & Barge had a contract to dispose of dredged material on Winter Island, for a fee, for use in levee maintenance, but it had no permit to dump the material in the water, according to an indictment filed against Guinn.    “The defendant used public waterways as a dumping ground for toxic dredged material to save the time of disposing of it safely and legally on land,” said Nick Torres, chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Criminal Enforcement in San Francisco. “An almost two year sentence to federal prison sends a strong message to the defendant, as well as other managers, that if you cut corners and pollute, you risk significant prison time,” Torres said. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said testimony at the trial showed that dumping the material into the water would take minutes, but properly offloading it onto Winter Island would take 12 to 18 hours.  The material was classified as either contaminated or toxic and therefore should have been isolated from marine life, Haag said. Prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum that the illegal conduct spanned “at least four years of continuous dumping of millions of gallons of contaminated spoils into an estuary of San Francisco Bay.” Guinn, who is currently free on a $250,000 bond, was ordered to surrender on Oct. 22 to begin his prison term. He was acquitted at his trial of a third count of dumping dredged materials in 2003, and the jury was deadlocked on a fourth count of dumping materials in 2006. Brusco Tug & Barge, based in Longview, Wash., pleaded guilty before Illston last year to a charge of dumping dredged materials directly into delta waters surrounding Winter Island on April 17, 2003. The company was sentenced to pay $1.5 million in fines and penalties and ordered to create a comprehensive environmental compliance plan. The 453-acre island was the site of an unsuccessful utopian
community in the 1890s. It is now privately owned and is used for wetland habitat and a duck-hunting club. 
   
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