​NEWS RELEASE

FROM:
Karyn Sinunu, Assistant District Attorney   CONTACT PERSON:
John Fioretta, Deputy District Attorney
Environmental Protection Unit
(408) 792-2638   For release on September 7, 2004     ILLEGAL GRADING RESULTS IN RECORD RESTITUTION AWARD   Closing the latest chapter in a nine-year-old criminal case, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Stafford ordered a landowner who illegally graded a road to pay $368,444 to restore the site. According to County Planning Department staff, this is the largest case of illegal grading ever prosecuted in County history.  It is also the largest restitution award for illegal grading in the County.   In 1995 Eric Diesel graded a dirt road approximately one-quarter mile in length in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Saratoga Gap without obtaining the required permits. Despite being caught and ordered to stop, he continued to grade the road during the winter of 1995-1996. Winter storms caused significant erosion at the site, resulting in downstream water pollution. In 1999 a jury convicted Diesel of polluting state waters and of three County Grading Ordinance violations.   Although given nearly three years, Diesel failed to restore the site. The Court ordered Diesel to pay after holding a multi-day restitution hearing to determine the necessary remediation work and cost. The County will place the money into a trust account and it will only be used to restore this site.   The County Planning Department investigated the case, which the District Attorney’s Environmental Protection Unit prosecuted.   ###

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