A Mason County judge Friday sentenced a Tahuya man who tried to fill and alter the course of the Tahuya River to 30 days in jail on each count, to be served concurrently, $8,143 in fines, two years of probation and an order to follow civil and criminal environmental laws.
The Attorney General’s Office charged William Cayo, Sr. in Mason County District Court with violation of the water pollution control act, violation of the shoreline management act, and conducting unpermitted hydraulic activities in connection with the alteration of the channel of the Tahuya River in early February 2013. A jury convicted him on all counts last week.
Cayo used an excavator and bulldozer to fill the river channel near his home, and to redirect the river. In all, Cayo filled and graded nearly 1 ½ acres of river bed.
“Environmental crimes are a high priority for my office, and this kind of unpermitted work is unacceptable,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “If you break our laws and harm our environment, I will hold you accountable.”
“For his own benefit, the defendant in this case intentionally violated the law by significantly altering and damaging the Tahuya River,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Jay M. Green, head of EPA’s Criminal Enforcement program in Washington state. “In so doing, the defendant showed no regard for the environment, or for the salmon and other aquatic wildlife that the people of Washington state prize and protect, and no regard for his neighbors downstream. Today’s sentence sends a clear message to others who might choose to behave similarly that if you intentionally damage Washington state’s natural resources you are going to find yourself behind bars.”
Cayo was also sentenced to another 334 days on two counts and another 60 days on one, all of which were suspended. He also has another $8,500 in suspended fines.
A restitution hearing is set for June 26.