Polluter gets year in prison for pouring tar into storm drain
A prosecuting attorney hopes the order sends a strong message to would-be violators
A Pearl City man who admitted to dumping tar into a storm drain at Campbell Industrial Park will spend a year in jail.
Circuit Court Judge Richard Pollack ordered Jerry G. Souza, 35, on May 30 to the jail term as a condition of three years' probation. He entered a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to water pollution and other felony offenses.
An alert citizen called 911 after spotting Souza and co-defendant Michael Nueva, 48, draining leftover tar from a derelict tar truck in July 2004. The two were planning to sell the truck to a metal recycler.
When police arrived, officers found a 5-gallon bucket with tar next to the gutter leading into the storm drain and wet tar at the bottom of the drain.
Souza faced a maximum of three years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
Deputy Attorney General Marcus Sierra said they are satisfied that Souza received a jail term because it hopefully will deter others from doing the same. "People don't understand because these drains are dry they think it's OK, they don't see the pollution and think it can be absorbed in the dirt at the bottom of the drain," Sierra said.
Tar solidifies when it cools, but during heavy rain, some of its components end up in the ocean, Sierra said. "It's not as serious as pesticide and oils, but it does have an oil component and, in larger quantities, can cause a greater problem."
As part of the plea agreement, Souza also had pleaded guilty to second-degree theft and auto theft for stealing a flatbed tow truck from United Truck Rental.
The truck was reported missing in September 2004, and Souza was found driving it the following month delivering a load to a metal recycler at Campbell Industrial Park.
He apparently had towed a large trailer carrying a 40-foot steel beam used in constructing highway overpasses such as the H-3. The beam had been towed to a state base yard in Pearl City and forgotten until Souza showed up at the metal recyclers with it, Sierra said.
Nueva, who pleaded to water pollution, was sentenced last month to 13 days of jail and 200 hours of community service. He was granted a deferral of his guilty plea as long as he complies with the court's conditions.
Souza, who has been in custody since January for an unrelated drug case, has about eight months to serve before he is released.