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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

Septic Waste Hauler Convicted of Felony for Unlawful Dumping into Sewer

Santa Rosa, CA  –  September 13, 2018  –  District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that defendant Carlos Chavez, 64 years old of Petaluma, doing business as Carlos’ Petaluma/Novato or Marin Septic Service was sentenced today by the Honorable Robert LaForge for felony theft of utility services and misdemeanor advertising for construction work without a contractor’s license. The defendant was placed on 36 months of probation, ordered to serve one year in county jail and pay a $30,000 penalty, and to pay restitution to the Cities of Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park.

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “Mr. Chavez was operating a business with an unfair advantage over other businesses as he repeatedly dumped septic waste in an unpermitted location. His conduct was unfair and harmful to the sewer system and to the cities who rely upon fees associated with lawful disposal. The sentence will hold him accountable going forward.”

Chavez is a septic hauler who was suspected of dumping septic waste into an unpermitted manhole located at 1742 E. Cotati Ave.in Rohnert Park, causing the Rohnert Park sewer system to back up and overflow due to the existence of “grit,” a substance associated with septic waste and not residential sewage. The existence of grit had caused problems in the sewer system in Rohnert Park since December of 2015. 

The felony and misdemeanor charges resulted from an investigation by the Santa Rosa Police in December of 2017 and January of 2018. Police placed a camera outside of the defendant’s property to monitor his presence at the residence while the City of Rohnert Park placed monitors in the sewer to determine the source of the grit and any excess flow. It was observed that excess flow in the sewer lines regularly occurred within minutes after defendant’s arrival at the E. Cotati address and that excess flow occurred daily coming from this location and sometimes up to five times per day. Defendant had a history of similar conduct that included three incidents that date back more than 30 years.

A restitution hearing was set for October 30, 2018 to determine if the amount requested by the City of Santa Rosa ($353,977.76) and the City of Rohnert Park ($15,576.66) will be ordered for damage or harm to the sewer, and a $30,700 penalty.

Since his arrest in January, defendant has been in compliance with permit conditions issued by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services.

The case was prosecuted by the Environmental and Consumer Law Division of the DA’s Office, by Deputy District Attorney Ann Gallagher White, with Detective Brandon Matthies of the Santa Rosa Police Department heading the investigation with assistance from Warren Naumann (City of Rohnert Park), Chris Murray and Martin St. George (City of Santa Rosa Environmental Compliance Department).

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Joe Langenbahn
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Office of the District Attorney
County of Sonoma
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