Illegal Dumping in Utah Waterways

Almost 3 million gallons of toxic waste is making its way to Lake Powell and residents affected are questioning the consequences of illegal dumping in Utah waterways.

The EPA’s illegal accidental dumping

Photo by: Sharon Mollerus

Photo by: Sharon Mollerus

Last Wednesday, the EPA had a group working cleanup detail on a Colorado mine. During the cleanup, the group accidentally made a bigger mess when they broke a dam inside the mine that was holding back a large amount of toxic waste. Once released, the waste dumped into nearby Cement Creek and has been working its way down the San Juan River toward Lake Powell.

Complications of the toxic waste

The mustard yellow toxic waste released into the waterways contains harmful chemicals and metals such as aluminum, arsenic, lead, and copper. These pollutants not only make the water undrinkable for human consumption, skin exposed to it can become extremely irritated as well. Its effects on vegetation and wildlife is unknown at the time, however toxic is toxic; damage is imminent. These toxins are predicted to settle into riverbeds, where they will remain for an indefinite period of time. How long it will be until the water is “safe” to swim or drink has not been determined.

Polluting our water

Utah code 19-5-107 states “except as provided in this chapter or rules made under it, it is unlawful for any person to discharge a pollutant into waters of the state or to cause pollution which constitutes a menace to public health and welfare, or is harmful to wildlife, fish or aquatic life, or impairs domestic, agricultural, industrial, recreational, or other beneficial uses of water, or to place or cause to be placed any wastes in a location where there is probable cause to believe it will cause pollution.” The Navajo Nation, which uses the San Juan River for a culinary resource near Mexican Hat, Utah is already having drinking water shipped in for residents. They are predicting the cleanup of the toxic murk will be severely difficult and time consuming. How much this will cost or the extent of the damage isn’t even fathomable at this time.

Charges against EPA unlikely

Consequences for illegal dumping in Utah waterways can range from a class A misdemeanor to a 2nd degree felony for those that are actually held accountable. This depends on a variety of issues such as how toxic the discarded waste is and whether or not the person or business has been convicted of illegal dumping before. Since the EPA is a federal company, they are unlikely to face criminal charges for the illegal dumping in Utah waterways; however the Navajo Nation is planning on suing for costs and damages.

Not the same drain

While most Utah residents wouldn’t intentionally dump anything foreign into a river or lake, many don’t think twice about the difference between washing dishes in the sink and washing their car in the driveway. What goes down the drain in the home goes to a completely different place from than runoff outside the home. Regarding these different water systems, the Salt Lake County Health Departments states:
“The sanitary sewer is the system that takes wastewater from your sinks, toilets, showers, dishwashers and washing machines to the water treatment plant. There the pollutants in the water are either removed or reduced to acceptable levels and then the treated water is discharged into the river.
The storm sewer system is used to drain rainwater and snowmelt off the streets, parking lots, driveways, etc. This water goes directly into the nearest stream, river, pond, lake or canal without any treatment whatsoever, so dumping soapy water into the gutter is no different than dumping it into the nearest creek.”

Protect yourself from charges

Those persons caught dumping chemicals into rivers, streams, or lakes are guilty of illegal dumping in Utah waterways. Also guilty are those who wash cars, clean driveways, pressure wash exterior of homes and rinse oil or other chemical containers and let waste water go into the gutters or storm drains. For more information on illegal dumping in Utah waterways or for legal counsel regarding charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Child Pornography in Utah

Photo courtesy of Washington County Bookings Report

Photo courtesy of Washington County Bookings Report

A marine living in St. George, Utah was arrested Monday for possession of child pornography.  24 year old Richard Anthony Vidal turned himself in on Monday after returning from overseas to his home in St. George, Utah. A search of his home and electronics conducted earlier this year revealed numerous pictures and videos of sexually explicit acts being done to young children.  According to the Washington County Bookings report, he was charged with 5 counts of exploitation of a minor, each one a 2nd degree felony sexual offense.

Child pornography use on the rise

With the computer boom in the last 2 decades, there has also been a surge in child pornography viewing.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “the main sex exploitation offense referred to U.S. attorneys shifted from sex abuse (73%) in 1994 to child pornography (69%) in 2006.”  This jump in statistics over a 12 year period is explainable by the not hard to find or create illegal photos and videos being easily accessed and shared from personal computers, laptops, and smart phones.

Addictive as a drug

Fightthenewdrug.com, an online website dedicated to educate and cease the widespread use of pornography states “On the surface, cocaine and porn don’t seem to have a lot in common but studies are showing that viewing pornography tricks your brain into releasing the same pleasure chemicals that drugs do.” Just like any drug, pornography of any kind including child pornography can be highly addicting. What makes people choose to view child pornography originally isn’t always known. What is crystal clear is that once they view child pornography, it is very difficult for them to not view it again.

No one is immune

Photo by: andronicusmax

Photo by: andronicusmax

Those guilty in viewing and sharing child pornography don’t always fit the mold that society has created. Sure there may be jobless, friendless, sorry looking middle age guys living in their parent’s basement that dabble with child pornography, but child pornography addictions affect people from every walk of life.

  • As previously stated, there was the young United States Marine Richard Anthony Vidal. Vidal’s military lifestyle was probably not lacking on discipline and his free time was undoubtedly limited. Vidal will most likely be court marshaled and be given an unhonorable discharge from the Marine Corps.
  •  Grant D. Smith, a Utah college engineering professor was arrested a few years ago after a fellow passenger on a plane saw Smith viewing explicit images of young girls while in route to Boston from Salt Lake City. Not only did Smith lose his job at the University of Utah, he was put on 5 years of probation where he was not to be in contact with any children under 16 including his own, and he had to register as a sex offender.
  • 34 year old pediatrician Taylor Steven Jerman of Clearfield Utah was found to be in possession of child pornography on his home computers. If convicted of the 8 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor during his next hearing in August, he will likely lose his employment and possibly his medical license.
  •  Steven Powell, 65, grandfather to Charlie and Braden Powell who were killed in a murder suicide by their father Josh Powell, and father in law of Susan Powell who has been missing since 2009, was arrested on Monday for child pornography charges…again. Not only has he already lost 4 members of his family, he may serve half a decade of what’s left of his elderly life in prison.
  •  32 year old mother Monique Ruiz of Utah was arrested in January for taking nude pictures of her a 9 year old special needs daughter and sending them to man in Taylorsville, who she met online. The mother is facing several felony charges along with her parental rights.
  •  Average Joe, 20 year old Miguel Gonzalez-Rivera of Saratoga Springs was arrested earlier this month after he unknowingly shared child pornography with an undercover agent online. Gonzalez-Rivera stated that he was accidentally exposed to pornography, yet continued viewing it afterwards willingly. His charges are not set at this time.
Photo by: David Goehring

Photo by: David Goehring

Pornography kills

The ad “porn kills” is very accurate. It kills the lives of those affected. Besides the damage that it does to people psychologically, child pornography viewing destroys the guilty individual’s family, employment, criminal record, and reputation. For those who have been caught up in viewing or sharing child pornography and are facing charges for sexual exploitation of a minor, contact a criminal defense attorney.

DUI Automobile Homicide for Man Involved in High-Speed Pursuit

DUI automobile homicide after high-speed pursuit

Photo: Public Domain

A man arrested last May after a crash that killed the three other passengers in his vehicle pleaded guilty to DUI automobile homicide on Friday, March 27. One of the passengers was the driver’s girlfriend, and the others were juveniles.

Attempting to Flee Always a Bad Idea

Trying to flee from police officers always makes things worse. At the very least, it adds additional felony charges onto what might have been simple misdemeanors had the suspect chosen not to flee. However, for Jonathan Ulises Analco-Cruz, 24, attempting to flee led to a high-speed crash that landed him with multiple counts of DUI automobile homicide.

According to KSL News, on May 17, 2014, an officer attempted to pull over Cruz for doing 60 mph in a 35 mph zone at Salt Lake City International Airport. Cruz accelerated with erratic lane changes as he sped toward eastbound I-80, at which point court documents state that the officer ended the pursuit for public safety reasons.

However, near the I-215 interchange, Cruz apparently lost control of his vehicle and rolled it several times. A reconstruction of the incident indicated that Cruz was going 103 mph when he lost control. Cruz was found at the scene in critical condition. His girlfriend, Michaela Martin, 18, was killed on the crash, as were two male juveniles, ages 17 and 14.

Cruz’s blood-alcohol level was 0.21, almost three times the Utah legal limit of 0.08, and THC was found in his system. Court records indicate that an arrest warrant had been issued for Cruz just nine days earlier for failing to pay a fine and driving infractions.

Cruz pleaded guilty to two counts of DUI automobile homicide and failure to stop at an officer’s command, all second degree felonies.

When a DUI Misdemeanor Becomes a DUI Automobile Homicide Felony

As stated at the beginning of this post, attempting to flee is always a bad idea. Had Cruz consented to be pulled over, he would’ve most likely received a speeding ticket and a DUI charge, a class B misdemeanor provided he didn’t injure anyone or hadn’t been convicted before. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Instead, Cruz attempted to flee and killed three people in the process. Now he has three second degree felonies he is facing. A single second degree felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The most important thing to remember is not to take your changes attempting to flee from police if you are driving under the influence. However, if you or someone you know has already been charged with DUI automobile homicide charges, don’t leave the potential of losing fifteen years of your life in the hands of a public defender. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will look out for your best interests.