Karyn Sinunu, Assistant District Attorney CONTACT PERSON:
John Fioretta, Deputy District Attorney
Environmental Protection Unit
(408) 792-2638 For release on March 18, 2005 PALO ALTO GREASE DUMPERS CONVICTED OF FELONIES After a trial that spanned six weeks, yesterday Superior Court Judge Eugene Hyman convicted Thomas Medeiros of felony and misdemeanor charges for dumping restaurant grease into the Palo Alto sanitary sewer. Medeiros’ former employer, A-1 Septic Tank Service, Inc., and coworkers Richard Murillo and Mark Hetrick, Jr. previously pleaded no contest to the same charges. A-1 Septic Tank Service is a liquid waste hauling business based in Hayward. On December 3, 2001, A-1 Septic employees Medeiros, Murillo, and Hetrick cleaned a substantial amount of grease from the Palo Alto Hills Golf and Country Club. Instead of lawfully disposing it at a treatment plant or landfill, they discharged the grease into a pipe that emptied into the city sewer. The grease overflowed several manholes near the corner of Alexis Drive and Page Mill Road into Matadero Creek. A cyclist slipped on the grease, a truck was disabled when it hit one of the open manholes, and city crews spent hours attempting to clean up the pollution. A-1 Septic Tank Service, Murillo, and Hetrick pleaded before trial. A-1 will pay a fine and penalty assessment of $108,000. Murillo and Hetrick will each serve 90 days in jail, perform 300 hours of community service, and pay a $13,500 fine and penalty assessment. Medeiros will be sentenced on the felony and misdemeanor convictions on May 12th. The maximum sentence is three years in prison and a $50,000 fine. This case is the third successful prosecution of a grease hauler by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in the last three years. The illegal disposal of restaurant grease is a statewide problem. Legislation to address it is currently pending. The District Attorney’s Environmental Protection Unit investigated and prosecuted the case, assisted by the City of Palo Alto Water Pollution Control Plant and Public Utilities Department.