Oil company owner enters plea in illegal discharge case

CAMERON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - An oil company owner has pleaded guilty to illegal discharges in state waters, according to a news release from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Officials on Tuesday announced that Lobdell Percy Brown III, the owner and chief executive officer of T&F Oil Company, entered a plea of guilty as a result of the illegal discharge of pollutants into state waters.

Officials said that T&F Oil, along with Brown and his brother, T&F field technician Carr Brown, were indicted on Oct. 21, 2011, by a Cameron Parish grand jury as a result of two "willful and illegal discharges of oil and chlorides into the waters of the state, along with five additional spills that went unreported from sites located in the Little Chenier oilfield," the release states.

Officials said that the discharges were in violation of the Louisiana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Following the indictment, a warrant was issued for their arrest.

Officials said as a result of the guilty plea, Brown will be placed on bench probation for a total of six years.

"Within 30 days of his plea, Brown must pay $11,080 to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's Environmental Trust Fund for the cost of the investigation," the release states.

Brown is also directed to reimburse up to half of this amount, pending a plea from related defendant, Carr Brown. In addition, Brown will pay a total criminal fine of $15,000, plus restitution as determined in a companion civil enforcement action currently in process, officials said.

As a condition of his probation, Brown will pay $50,000 into the registry of the court as a down payment toward his pro rata share of the clean up and the pro rata share of the clean up attributed to T&F Oil Company during his ownership and/or control of the company.

Brown is also ordered to pay all court costs imposed by the court, plus additional fees imposed by the Clerk of Court for maintaining the funds filed into the registry. Should Brown violate his probation, he is subject to imprisonment of up to six years in jail.

The plea is a result of the investigation conducted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's Criminal Investigation Division and the Louisiana Environmental Crimes Task Force," according to officials.

"Business owners who choose to blatantly pollute our environment will be met with severe legal consequences as a result of their actions," said DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch. "DEQ has a strong relationship with its local, state and federal partners who collectively investigate and aggressively prosecute any person or business in Louisiana who knowingly evades environmental laws."

The case was prosecuted by the Louisiana Attorney General's office.

Officials said the mission of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is to protect the environment and public health. Any persons with knowledge of any spills, releases, odors, fish kills, open burning, waste tires and any other types of environmental incidents may contact DEQ at 225-219-3640 or Toll Free 1-888-763-5424.

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