Dirt broker accused of dumping into SF Bay

A commercial waste broker from Carmel has been federally indicted on charges of illegally dumping polluted earth and debris into wetlands and waters of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newark.

James Lucero, 59, was charged with two counts of violating the U.S. Clean Water Act in an indictment issued under seal by a federal grand jury in Oakland on March 15.

The indictment was unsealed after Lucero was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu in Oakland on Monday. Lucero pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on a $250,000 personal bond.

His next court appearance is a status conference April 25 in Oakland before U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, the trial judge assigned to the case.

According to the indictment, Lucero conducted a business of providing open space to contractors and trucking companies for the dumping of construction debris and other fill material.

One count of the indictment charges him with causing construction debris and dirt to be dumped without a permit into 11.85 acres of federally protected wetlands adjacent to Mowry Slough in the wildlife refuge between June and September 2014.

The second count accuses him of dumping such materials without a permit into 1.33 acres of other waters in the same area.

If Lucero is convicted of the charges, the maximum sentence for each count is three years in prison.