The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the criminal conspiracy conviction of a waste-contractor manager for illegally dumping restaurant grease into the Mobile, Alabama, public sewer system. United States v. Wilmoth, No. 11-10540 (11th Cir. 4/17/12) (unpublished). After a five-day trial, a jury convicted the defendant of conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act (CW A) but acquitted him of mail fraud and five out of 33 CW A counts charged. As to the 28 other counts, the jury found defendant guilty of “violating the CW A negligently.” At trial, four employees testified they either illegally dumped grease with defendant’s knowledge or were encouraged by him to do so. Defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence on the conspiracy count, arguing that he was acquitted of all the substantive felony charges.
Rejecting defendant’s arguments, the appeals court held that the evidence was “easily sufficient” to sustain a finding that defendant conspired to intentionally violate the CW A. The court also ruled that “[a]s a matter of well-settled law, the verdict on the substantive counts is not a basis for setting aside the conspiracy conviction.”