DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that a Montrose County District Court judge has sentenced Steven Casebolt (DOB: 2/8/1959) to a total of five years probation for his involvement in a Montrose-based company’s failure to properly store and dispose of hazardous wastes.
The judge also sentenced Casebolt, who pleaded guilty July 9, 2009 to three felony counts — illegal treatment of a hazardous waste, illegal storage of a hazardous waste and illegal storage of a hazardous waste — to 135 days in jail.
The Statewide Grand Jury indicted Casebolt and a second co-defendant, now deceased, in April 2007 on suspicion that their business, Elizabeth Mining, a previous-metal-extraction operation in Montrose, was illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste while running the business between June 1998 and February 2007. Elizabeth Mining, which was renamed Precious Metal Recovery, Inc., extracted precious metals, including platinum, palladium and rhodium from used automotive catalytic converters.
“Heavy metals like lead and chrome can harm people and the environment,” said Lori Hanson, special agent-in-charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigative Division in Denver. “Individuals who refuse to safely and legally handle hazardous waste will be prosecuted.”
“This sentence underlines my office’s commitment to vigorously prosecute anyone who improperly stores or disposes of hazardous wastes anywhere in Colorado,” Suthers said. “Colorado’s natural resources are one of the state’s greatest assets. Protecting the integrity of Colorado’s water and land are two of my most important charges as attorney general.”
A third co-defendant, Wayne Ratner, also was indicted on securities fraud charges as a result of the Office of the Attorney General’s investigation into Elizabeth Mining. He subsequently pleaded guilty in April 2008 to selling an unregistered security, a class-six felony, and was sentenced to three years probation.
The Office of the Attorney General worked to obtain the indictment and prosecute Casebolt and his codefendants with the assistance of Joyce Williams and Ed Smith, inspectors with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division, and criminal investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigative Division.
“Proper treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes are very important to protecting public health and the environment,” said Williams, Hazardous Waste Compliance/Enforcement Unit Leader at the state health department. “We prefer to work with people toward compliance with the hazardous waste regulations, but will go the distance when violations continue.”