June 28, 2006
St. Louis, Mo. — The state of Missouri today received the final payment of a record environment penalty assessed against a real estate developer who failed to make improvements to a north St. Louis County wastewater treatment plant. Attorney General Jay Nixon has been pursuing collection against Joseph P. Afshari and his company, Mill Creek Sewers Inc., since the St. Louis County Circuit Court ordered them to pay $558,000 in penalties to the state in November 2003. The fine remains the largest environmental penalty ever ordered by a Missouri state court after a trial.
“Our Financial Services Division is extremely dogged in chasing down debt owed to the citizens of Missouri,” Nixon said. “Those who try to evade those debts find this out very quickly, and Mr. Afshari was no exception.”
The Attorney General's Office received a check today for $481,000 and a check in February 2004 for $77,000 to satisfy the penalty portion of the 2003 court order. Both checks were a result of judgment liens by the Attorney General on property owned by Afshari. Nixon said judgment liens on property are just one of the many ways his office goes after bad debt.
The November 2003 order came after a court hearing on Nixon's motion for stipulated penalties against Afshari. Nixon said Afshari and Mill Creek did not meet deadlines in a 1998 court order to complete upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility in the Castlereagh Estates subdivision in north St. Louis County. Wastewater from the subdivision was not being adequately treated before being discharged into Mill Creek; the ordered improvements have since been made.
“The size of these penalties in 2003 sent a message to polluters who don't fulfill their environmental responsibilities,” Nixon said. “Our aggressiveness in making sure the penalties were paid sends an equally strong message that you can't skip out on money owed to the state.”