Hazardous waste, fraud, abuse . . . and pistachio trees!
California’s politicians claim they want to stop pollution, but it appears the bureaucrats who actually implement the regulations our representatives promulgate have different priorities.
California’s attorney general has charged five former and current employees of Panoche Water District in central California with felonies fraud, abuse . . . and hazardous waste violations.
The Department of Toxic Substances Control at California’s Environmental Protection Agency says it found 86 drums, each holding between 35 and 55 gallons of “chlorine, caustic soda, iron chloride and a mixture of used antifreeze, used solvents, and used oil.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra accused former Panoche Water District General Manager Dennis Falaschi and former employees Jack Hurley and Dubby West of disposing of the chemicals at an unauthorized site, specifically burying them “in a pit or in the soil at the Panoche Water District yard” near Firebaugh, Calif.
West and another former employee, Julie Cascia, were also charged with transporting hazardous waste including a drum from the Panoche Water District Auto Shop to an unpermitted site.
I have to commend Becerra for finally focusing on a state-based case where there is a potential for real crime instead of on attacking President Trump on fallacious charges.
The probe into the illegal hazardous waste dumping began a year ago when state investigators discovered 86 drums of hazardous waste illegally buried in a rural Central Valley water district yard.
Their probe quickly widened to include allegations of misconduct that were revealed in a state audit. Soon, authorities said, they discovered that officials running the Panoche Water District misused more than $100,000 in public funds on various personal items and expenses, including slot machines, concert tickets, home improvements and Porsche upgrades.
Now, five current and former water district officials — including former General Manager Dennis Falaschi — are facing felony charges in the corruption probe, according to the California attorney general’s office.
Four of them have been arrested, and one is expected to surrender Friday, said the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. It is unclear whether any of the accused have retained attorneys.
The charges also include siphoning off the labor of state employees, as well as diverting pistachio trees own by the water district.
The criminal complaint states that Dennis Falaschi and Cascia approved using the water district’s funds for dubious loans, items for personal use such as kitchen appliances and personal car repairs. They also reportedly paid the water district’s employees for performing landscaping services on private properties on district time.
Dennis Falaschi also signed off on transporting 1,500 pistachio trees owned by the water district to private property owned by Atomic Falaschi, his son, according to the complaint.
I would like to think that California’s politicians have learned to focus their attention on state issues instead of Washington D.C., but I doubt it.
So, I will console myself with the knowledge that at least, for now, the Golden State has five fewer fraudsters on the government payroll funded by our tax dollars.DONATE
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