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December 30, 2010

Grand jury indicts Leroy Douglas for 2008 oil spill

BLACK BROOK — A Clinton County grand jury has indicted Silver Lake property owner Leroy Douglas on criminal charges of environmental endangerment.

The indictment stems from an alleged waste-oil spill in 2008.

SEVEN CHARGES

Both the Douglas Corp. and Douglas are accused of endangering "the public health, safety or the environment" — a third-degree felony — according to the indictment signed by Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie.

The indictment also carries six misdemeanor counts: prohibited disposal of solid waste, disturbance of streambeds without a valid permit, failure to register a petroleum bulk-storage facility, failure to provide overfill prevention and secondary containment systems, failure to report spills or leaks and failure to properly close petroleum bulk-service tanks.

Assistant DA Timothy Blatchley is prosecuting the case but was out of the office this week and could not be reached for comment on the proceeding.

HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE

The court papers accuse Douglas and his company of reckless conduct, "which caused the release of more than 200 gallons or 2,000 pounds of an aggregate weight or volume of a substance hazardous to public health, safety or the environment" on or about Aug. 27, 2008.

Court papers do not name the substance allegedly spilled or say how it spilled, and no formal Department of Environmental Conservation violation has been filed, according to Douglas's attorney, Matthew Norfolk of Briggs Norfolk in Lake Placid.

The release of a hazardous substance is separate from Adirondack Park Agency enforcement action brought in 2007 against Douglas.

That violation dealt with an area of fill beside an old road on a parcel Douglas had subdivided to sell.

NO DEC ACTION

None of the charges drew violations from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

"The department (DEC) has not filed any administrative or civil proceedings against my client alleging any of these acts," Norfolk said when asked about the criminal charges on Wednesday.

"There was never any cease-and-desist order from DEC issued to either Mr. Douglas or the Douglas Corporation. I've never seen these prosecuted in a criminal action before."

Douglas will be arraigned in Clinton County Court on Tuesday.

"We intend to plead not guilty to the charges," Norfolk said.

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