In coastal Mississippi, which is still digging out from the damage that Hurricane Katrina wrought upon low-lying areas, paving over wetlands now comes at a much higher price than the usual fine. A developer and two associates convicted of subdividing protected wetlands into “Big Hill Acres,” and of building septic systems that leaked into drinking water supplies, have received long prison terms for their environmental misdeeds.

On December 5, U.S. District Court judge Louis Guirolla sentenced developer Robert Lucas Jr., real estate agent (and Lucas’ daughter) Robbie Lucas Wrigley, and engineer M.E. Thompson Jr. to 7-8 years in prison apiece and $1.4 million in restitution. Their affiliated companies will pay another $5.3 million in fines. EPA agent David McLeod said, “Today’s historical sentencing demonstrates our resolve to vigorously prosecute those who despoil our nation’s precious wetlands.”

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[Found at Jackson, Miss. Clarion-Ledger, via Smart Growth News]

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