EPA alleges that Kuhn had a role in a conspiracy to dump the wastes – which contained hazardous concentrations of arsenic and lead – onto a hillside and county road surrounding the mine and, on at least one occasion, into a nearby stream. The area included public lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Exposure to arsenic can cause partial paralysis, blindness and cancer. Exposure to lead can affect kidney function and cause reproductive and developmental issues.
On July 1, 2010, the federal grand jury in the Eastern District of California returned an indictment charging Kuhn with one count of conspiracy and aiding and abetting, one count of depredation against United States property, two counts of false statements and one count of negligent discharge of a pollutant into a water of the United States. An indictment is an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Kuhn faces a possible 20-year imprisonment.
“EPA is serious about enforcing the nation’s environmental laws to protect public health. Those who are charged with violating the law must have their guilt or innocence determined in a court of law,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The public can help EPA by reporting any information they have on the whereabouts of Mr. Kuhn on EPA’s fugitive Web site or to local law enforcement.”
A warrant has been issued for Kuhn’s arrest.
With the addition of Kuhn, EPA’s fugitive list currently contains 18 individuals who have failed to turn themselves in after being indicted and charged with or convicted of violating environmental laws or associated violations of the U.S. Criminal Code. EPA stressed that members of the public should not try to apprehend any person on the fugitive list and should instead report the information to EPA, local police or, if outside the United States, to the nearest U.S. Embassy.