Kauai landowner
admits erosion

A former auto dealer might get
prison time for polluting the ocean

Retired auto dealer Jimmy Pflueger pleaded no contest yesterday in Kauai Circuit Court to 14 violations of the state's water pollution laws.

Pflueger admitted he was responsible for not having the required permits when, during a 2001 Thanksgiving weekend storm, a landslide on his North Shore Kauai property flowed into the ocean.

He faces a maximum three years in prison and a $50,000 fine on each count when sentenced Sept. 9.

Mud washed down a hill between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2001, onto a neighboring property and into the ocean because of deep cuts Pflueger made on his Pilaa property, including a cut in the mountain that resulted in a vertical face about 40 feet tall, according to Deputy Attorney General Colleen Chun.

The 13 other charges stemmed from instances in which the Department of Health and neighbors documented soil, silt and debris from Pflueger's property discharging into the ocean between December 2001 and August 2002.

Ben Cassiday, Pflueger's attorney, said the erosion would have occurred even if Pflueger had obtained the permits, "but the fact that he didn't made him liable and responsible, so we're trying to deal with it."

Cassiday asked for additional time before Pflueger is sentenced to settle some civil matters with the state and federal government. He said they expect to clear up the remaining matters in the next six months.

"The more that Jimmy does to show that he's responsible and fix any problems in his property, the more the judge will give him credit for taking responsibility and doing the right thing," Cassiday said.

Chun had objected last week to Pflueger pleading no contest. "We wanted the defendant to plead guilty to the 14 counts and take responsibility for his actions," said Chun, adding that pleading guilty would have been more sincere.

Judge Clifford Nakea told the parties Friday he was making an exception by allowing Pflueger to plead no contest, citing civil liability and the exposure Pflueger faces if he enters a guilty plea.


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