A bus driver for the Dave Matthews Band pleaded guilty Wednesday to dumping 800 pounds of human waste from the vehicle's septic tank onto a sightseeing boat on the Chicago River last summer.
The driver, Stefan Wohl, was sentenced to 18 months probation, 150 hours of community service and the maximum $10,000 fine, which will be paid to Friends of the Chicago River, said Tom Stanton, a spokesman for the Cook County State's Attorney's office.
Wohl, 42, of Selma, Texas, pleaded guilty to the original charges filed against him in January, reckless conduct and discharging contaminates to cause water pollution, Stanton said.
According to authorities, Wohl was alone in the bus of band violinist Boyd Tinsley on his way to a downtown hotel Aug. 8 when he emptied the bus' septic tank as it crossed the metal grates of the Kinzie Street bridge.
The human waste poured through the grates and onto the open deck of the Chicago's Little Lady tour boat, which was passing below with more than 100 people on board.
The boat immediately returned to its dock and was disinfected, and officials with the Chicago Architectural Foundation, which operates the tour, offered refunds. They said they received several calls from angry passengers who also demanded compensation for clothing and personal items.
When Wohl was charged, prosecutors said he had talked to investigators and denied discharging waste on the bridge, prosecutors said.
Authorities used surveillance tapes from area buildings to zero in on the bus and consulted with engineers to determine the waste release was not an accident.
Prosecutors said the band cooperated in the investigation, flying Tinsley to Chicago to be interviewed by authorities and bringing the bus, one of a number used by the band, back for inspection.
Shortly after the incident, the band issued a statement on its Web site saying that if the bus was found to be responsible, the band would "work quickly to make amends, with the people on the boat and with Chicago."
The band has since donated $50,000 to the Friends of the Chicago River and $50,000 to the Chicago Park District.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has also filed a civil lawsuit seeking $70,000 in damages against the band and driver alleging they violated state environmental laws. That case is ongoing, and the next court date is scheduled for next month, according to Madigan spokeswoman Melissa Merz.
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