Watchdog Nation helps fix problems caused by illegal dumper

Truckloads of dirt and debris started appearing on Christopher Moore’s Texas property last year. Somebody had picked the far end of his property as east Parker County’s new hot spot for illegal dumping.

“It was a little at a time,” Moore remembers of the big mounds that arrived. “It wasn’t like one day a bunch of piles showed up. There were seven piles here. Then later, nine more there.” When the open space was filled after months of illicit visits from haulers, Moore counted 73 mounds.

“I didn’t know how to stop it because I didn’t know where it was coming from,” he said.

Moore works away from home and couldn’t catch the haulers who were dumping pool construction debris, but a neighbor did spot them. The neighbor saw the name of the company on the truck — Mac’s Excavating of Fort Worth.

As readers of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Dave Lieber Watchdog column first learned, when Moore heard this, he called Mac’s and reached Patrick McGlothlin, a vice president, who admitted that the loads had come from his company, which hauls for pool builders. But McGlothlin said his driver got permission from a neighbor who the driver thought was the landowner.

 Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Then it got worse. Moore said he wanted the piles removed. The vice president said that would be too expensive. He asked if the mess could be spread out. Moore says he wanted to be there if that happened, but he never gave final permission.

That message got lost in translation. Mac’s President Mike McGlothlin, Patrick’s brother, went to the Annetta property near Aledo and spread the dirt and debris across Moore’s land.

Mike McGlothlin acknowledged to The Watchdog that the dumping occurred, calling it “a big mistake.” But he insists that Mac’s had permission to both dump and spread on Moore’s property. Moore says that’s simply not true.

The company president says his mistake was basing decisions on “secondhand information.” His brother Patrick, who handled the matter, has left the company, but not over this, Mike McGlothlin said.

“In our defense, all that dirt ain’t ours. We weren’t the only ones dumping in there,” Mike McGlothlin said.

He won’t dispute Moore’s count of 73 piles either. “I don’t doubt it because I spread it, and it took me a long time to do it.”

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Law enforcement has difficulty catching illegal dumpers because suspects are hard to find. Moore is chairman of his town’s Planning and Zoning Board, but he wasn’t familiar with state illegal dumping laws. His town of Annetta isn’t set up for enforcement.

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Under state law, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has administrative power, but local law enforcement is generally expected to build a case against dumpers. I learned that Moore should file a complaint with the Parker County fire marshal’s environmental division, and he did.

Investigator Lanny Padgett said he began his investigation last week — one of 40 ongoing inquiries, he said — by taking photos and trying to interview those involved.

After he investigates, the district attorney’s office makes a final call on whether charges would be filed for illegal dumping. Penalties increase depending on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony. That comes down to the questions of what and how much was dumped, and where. The investigator says a case like this sometimes end up in civil court, rather than as a criminal prosecution.

In Tarrant County, dumping prosecutions are rare and there are no pending cases, Assistant District Attorney Tonya Harlan reports. “Unless you catch them doing it, these cases are difficult. But if you caught someone … well, that’s another story,” she said.

Moore says he has not consulted a lawyer. His property is pasted with tons of concrete, debris and a not-so-fine collection of dust and dirt. It looks like a moonscape. A real estate agent told Moore, “Your property has been extremely devalued.”

Moore said, “This is the most frustrating thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

UPDATE

After this report appeared, the fire marshal’s office investigated the crime. When told jail was in his future, McGlothlin met with the homeowner.

At first, McGlothlin didn’t want to shake Moore’s hand because of all the trouble. But then McGlothlin went to work.

He removed most of the 70 mounds of debris from Moore’s property. He used the rest to reshape the contour of the land to improve the property.

Moore says the final product is much better than when he bought the property. Grateful, he has asked McGlothlin to put in a bid to pour a new driveway. In return, McGlothlin promises to get his next haircut at Moore’s hair salon. If only they all ended this way.

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Are you tired of fighting the bank, the credit card company, the electric company and the phone company? They can be worse than scammers the way they treat customers. A popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded in a 2012 edition, the book won two national book awards for social change. 

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

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