WAYNESBURG — State prosecutors want a judge to reconsider a probation sentence given to a southwestern Pennsylvania man whose company dumped millions of gallons of wastewater into streams and mine shafts.
The state attorney general filed a motion Tuesday in Greene County Common Pleas Court arguing 50-year-old Robert Allan Shipman should have received prison time instead of seven years' probation, saying the lack of a prison sentence won't deter gas and oil drillers and others from polluting the environment, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Shipman's attorney, Christopher Blackwell, did not immediately return a call for comment.
Judge Farley Toothman ordered Shipman, formerly owner of Allan's Waste Water Service, to perform 1,750 hours of community service and to pay $257,000 in restitution plus a fine of $100,000.
The judge also barred Shipman from ever working again in the wastewater disposal industry. Shipman's firm disposed of wastewater containing natural gas drilling byproducts, sewage sludge and restaurant grease.
But Deputy Attorney General Amy Carnicella argued that the sentence fell well short of the "clarion call" the judge himself said was needed to discourage other polluters, noting that state sentencing guidelines called for 16 months in prison.
"To the contrary, a probationary sentence will have absolutely no deterrent effect and sends a clear message to the business community, including the oil and gas industry, that enforcement of environmental crimes is little more than the cost of doing business," Carnicella wrote.
Shipman was sentenced June 15 after pleading guilty earlier this year to counts including theft by deception, receiving stolen property, tampering the public records and conspiracy. Carnicella argued the judge erred in granting Shipman leniency for his charitable work and said that even though Shipman was being barred from the wastewater business, he still should have been jailed.
Prosecutors contend Shipman directed his drivers to dump the water illegally into streams, abandoned mines and business properties in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties from 2003 to 2009.