Western Pa. Polluter's Sentence Sparks Dispute

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
29 June 2012
By Torsten Ove

The lawyer representing a Greene County businessman sentenced to probation for polluting waterways in six counties with illegally dumped wastewater has accused the state attorney general's office of trying to "bully" the sentencing judge into imposing a harsher penalty.

Greene County Common Pleas Judge Farley Toothman this month sentenced Robert Allan Shipman, owner of Allan's Waste Water Service, to seven years of probation and 1,750 hours of community service, in addition to $257,316 in restitution, a $100,000 fine and a $25,000 charitable contribution to be paid to the attorney general's office.

The state prosecutor's office was angered by the probation sentence and said in a motion for reconsideration this week that Mr. Shipman should go to jail to send a message to others who would deliberately pollute the state.

Mr. Shipman's lawyer, Christopher Blackwell, countered Wednesday that the sentence was carefully crafted after an all-day sentencing hearing and that Deputy Attorney General Amy Carnicella, who wrote the state's motion, is trying to force the judge into a re-sentencing.

"The entire tone of the [motion] is designed to embarrass, belittle, and intimidate a judge who produced a thoughtful, well-reasoned opinion that brings honor to the bench," wrote Mr. Blackwell.

"Such conduct should not only be quashed immediately, but should be chastised and admonished" for its failure to follow the rules of professional conduct, he said.

Mr. Blackwell said Ms. Carnicella's motion insulted the judge by suggesting that he did not fully grasp the magnitude of Mr. Shipman's environmental crimes.

She had quoted Judge Toothman as saying the case could be a "clarion call" for cleaning the state's waterways.

But the probationary sentence, she said, falls short of a clarion call and will not serve as a deterrent to polluters.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said Mr. Blackwell's filing "unfairly attacked the professionalism" of Ms. Carnicella.

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.