ANCHORAGE – A federal grand jury in Anchorage returned an indictment charging two men from Seward, Alaska, with disposing of fifteen 55-gallon drums of an oily substance at the Granite Creek Recreation Area in the Chugach National Forest and causing the contents to leak.
According to court documents, James Withrow, 56, and Bruce Jackson, aka “Bruce Baker,” 66, removed seventeen 55-gallon drums from Jackson’s property in Seward on May 31, 2018, and placed them on a tractor-trailer being driven by Withrow. The two men then drove to Anchorage. The next day, on June 1, Withrow drove the tractor-trailer off the Seward Highway down a marked “No Dumping” “No Public Access” road at approximately mile 62 of the Seward Highway. He then parked and dumped fifteen of the seventeen 55-gallon drums onto the property of the U.S. Forest Service contaminating the ground with the oily contents causing damages of approximately $80,000. Additionally, on June 7, 2018, Withrow made false statements about the disposal of the oily substance to a U.S. Forest Service Special Agent.
The defendants are scheduled for their initial court appearance on December 13 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kyle F. Reardon of the U.S. District Court of Alaska. If convicted, Withrow could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and Jackson could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Wilson of the District of Alaska made the announcement.
The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steve Skrocki and Charisse Arce are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.