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North Bay Septic Service Owner Gets Jail For Illegally Dumping Raw Sewage

SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) -- The owner of a septic waste hauling company was sentenced Wednesday for dumping raw human waste into a manhole in Rohnert Park, according to the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Robert LaForge sentenced Carlos Chavez, 64, of Petaluma, to one year in Sonoma County Jail and three years' probation, District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.

He was convicted of felony theft of utility services and misdemeanor advertising for construction work without a contractor's license, Ravitch said.

Chavez, owner of Carlos' Petaluma/Novato Septic Service, also was fined $30,700, and he may be ordered to pay $353,977 to the city of Santa Rosa and $15,576 to Rohnert Park during an October restitution hearing for causing harm to the sewer systems, prosecutors said.

The investigation by Santa Rosa police in December 2017 and January of this year determined Chavez dumped septic waste into a manhole at 1742 E. Cotati Ave. in Rohnert Park, causing that city's sewer system to back up and overflow with "grit," prosecutors said.

Police placed a camera outside Chavez's property and Rohnert Park officials placed monitors in the sewer to determine the source of the grit and any excess flow, according to the district attorney's office.

Excess flow in the sewer lines regularly occurred within minutes of Chavez's arrival at the manhole on East Cotati Avenue, and the excess flow from that location occurred up to five times a day, according to the investigation.

Prosecutors said Chavez has a history of three prior similar incidents over more than 30 years. Chavez was arrested in January and has since been in compliance with permit conditions of the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, the District Attorney's Office said.

"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," Ravitch said.

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