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Three Individuals and Two Corporations Found Guilty in Mississippi Wetlands Case

Release Date: 03/09/2005
Contact Information: Stacie Findon, 202-564-4355 / findon.stacie@epa.gov

(03/09/05) On Feb. 25, Robert Lucas, Jr., of Lucedale, Miss.; Robbie Lucas Wrigley of Ocean Springs, Miss.; and M.E. Thompson, Jr., of D'Iberville, Miss.; were found guilty by a jury in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson, Miss., of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally constructing septic systems and dredging and filling wetland areas within a 2620-acre home site development in Vancleave, Miss. Additionally, two of Lucas' corporations, Big Hill Acres Inc., and Consolidated Investments Inc., were found guilty of conspiracy and mail fraud in connection with this case. The defendants misrepresented the habitability of the lots and installed septic systems in saturated wetland soils at the Big Hill Acres development despite the fact that the Mississippi Department of Health had warned them that they were creating a public health threat. The defendants also ignored numerous warnings and cease and desist orders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agencies were concerned that these failing septic systems could possibly contaminate the local drinking water aquifer. The case was investigated by the Jackson, Miss., Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service and U.S. EPA Region IV. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Gulfport, Miss., and the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section in Washington, D.C.