NEWS RELEASE

FROM:
Karyn Sinunu, Assistant District Attorney   CONTACT PERSON: 
Kenneth Rosenblatt, Deputy District Attorney
Environmental Protection Unit
(408) 792-2572   For release on December 20, 2004     CASA DE FRUTA AGREES TO $105,000 JUDGMENT FOR VIOLATIONS OF ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS   The Santa Clara County District Attorney has settled a civil lawsuit against Casa de Fruta, a specialty foods business located in Hollister. The judgment requires Casa de Fruta to pay $80,000 in civil penalties and investigative costs, and contribute $25,000 to an environmental project sponsored by the Land Trust for Santa Clara County. The funds will be used by the Trust for acquisition and land transaction costs in the Pajaro Project Area that encompasses the Pajaro River Watershed in southern Santa Clara and western San Benito counties.   In addition to its specialty food business, Casa de Fruta operates a gas station. The Complaint alleges that between June 1998 and May of 2003, the County Department of Environmental Health, Hazardous Materials Compliance Division, found violations of state environmental regulations at that gas station. The violations included hiring non-certified contractors to transport used oil, improperly disposing of used fuel filters, and failing to inspect above ground tanks and test monitoring systems for underground storage tanks as frequently as required by applicable regulations. Although none of these lapses resulted in injury, the Complaint alleges that Casa de Fruta failed to remedy these violations over a significant period of time after numerous inspections. Casa de Fruta has since made extensive efforts to come into compliance.    Casa de Fruta has admitted to one violation of California Health and Safety Code section 25189.2(b), one violation of California Health and Safety Code section 25299(b)(6), and one violation of California Business and Professions Code 17200.    This case was investigated by the County Department of Environmental Health, Hazardous Materials Compliance Division. The Environmental Protection Unit of the District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case.     # # #

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