Missouri restaurant, three individuals convicted of polluting Mississippi River

A restaurant company in Missouri and some of its employees were convicted of conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act and illegally dumping sewage into the Mississippi River.

Sept. 27, 2001 — A restaurant company, Venetian Harbor, Inc., of Portage Des Sioux, Mo., together with two of its officials, Warren Spielman of St. Louis, Mo. and Jered Lee Bonbrake of Alton, Ill., and an employee, Rush Templeton of Florissant, Mo., were found guilty on Sept. 20 of conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act and illegally dumping sewage into the Mississippi River.

Thea Preston of St. Charles, Mo. previously pleaded guilty to the same crimes. While operating "The Tavern on the Rand" aboard a converted tow vessel, the defendants discharged raw sewage from the vessel on several occasions into the Mississippi River and its adjacent connecting ditches, rather than pay for the cost of proper sewage disposal.

The corporation faces a maximum fine of $500,000 on each count. The individual defendants each face a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines on the conspiracy charge and a maximum of up to three years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines on each count of illegal discharging.

The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division; the St. Charles, Missouri County Sheriff's Department; the St. Louis, Missouri County Sheriff's Department; the Madison County, Illinois Sheriff's Department; the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois State Police with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis.

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