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Carmel ‘dirt broker’ sentenced to 30 months for illegal dumping

A Carmel man was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison for the illegal dumping of pollutants into U.S. waters, including wetlands, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

James Lucero, 59, was convicted by a federal jury on Feb. 21, 2018, of violating the Clean Water Act.

Evidence showed that Lucero, a self-described “dirt broker,” orchestrated the illegal discharge of pollutants into waters adjacent to Mowry Slough, part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newark, prosecutors said.

Lucero charged a fee to contractors and trucking companies in exchange for providing open space to dump fill material, including construction debris.

As a result, approximately 1,800 industrial-sized truckloads of construction debris and fill material were dumped on private property containing federally protected wetlands and other waters, without a required permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or permission from the landowner, prosecutors said. U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam ordered Lucero to serve 12 months of supervised release after his prison term, which begins April 22. A hearing has been set for May 28 to determine the amount of restitution Lucero must pay.

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