Two Rankin County men appeared in federal court on Thursday on felony charges of illegally discharging industrial waste into the Jackson Sewer System, conspiracy, and making false statements, announced U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca and Special Agent in Charge Charles Carfagno with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division’s Southeast Area Branch.
A nine-count federal indictment was unsealed in Jackson on Sep. 2, charging Thomas W. Douglas, Jr., 61, and John S. Welch, Sr., 64, with carrying out a scheme whereby industrial waste from their company, Gold Coast Commodities, was discharged illegally into the Jackson Sewer System.
The defendants made their initial court appearances today at the Thad Cochran U.S. Courthouse in Jackson.
The case is set for trial on Nov. 7, in U.S. District Court in Jackson. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on Count 1 of the indictment, three years in prison on each of Counts 2-6 of the indictment, and five years in prison on each of Counts 7-8 as to Douglas and Count 9 as to Welch.
“Gold Coast takes protecting the environment and surrounding communities very seriously. The charges against Tom Douglas and John Welch arise from a civil dispute with the City of Brandon that was settled and the conduct of a former vendor who has already pled guilty to charges concerning waste handling and disposal. Since the DOJ informed us of their investigation, we have cooperated fully with the investigators and have taken numerous measures to prevent the recurrence of this sort of conduct by vendors we hire,” said Colby Jordan, spokesman for Gold Coast Commoditities. “Tom Douglas has always strived for the best for his community, his company, his employees, and his family. Those who know Tom Douglas and John Welch, know that the full-scale fight they will mount to defend their reputation, their integrity, and their ethics will be intensive and thorough in pursuit of uncovering the truth.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the case.
Attorney Jeremy Korzenik with the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay B. Baldwin 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.See a typo? Report it here.