Former Kanab mayoral candidate charged with allegedly dumping human waste on a creek

A former Kanab mayoral candidate who owns a sewage company is one of three people facing criminal charges in connection with the illegal dumping of human waste near a tributary of the Sevier River in southern Utah.

Sindi Brown Vetere, 42, who lost her run for Kanab mayor in 2021, and her husband Weston Frank Vetere, 33, were charged with third-degree obstruction of justice in the 6th Circuit Court on Wednesday. One of Sindi Vetere’s associates, 61-year-old James Phillip Torgerson of Fredonia, Arizona, was charged with knowingly violating the Water Quality Act and obstructing justice, both third-degree offenses.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office into an illegal landfill incident that occurred earlier this month. On July 15, sheriff’s dispatchers received a report about a sewage truck possibly dumping human waste at Asay Creek several miles south of the town of Hatch, according to the affidavit accompanying the suspect’s arrest.

The person who reported the incident placed trail cameras near where the human waste was left and “was able to take pictures of the sewage company in the area,” the statement said. An investigator then visited the area and found several sites that appeared to be contaminated with human feces.

“Most of the sites were older, but smelled of raw sewage and what appeared to be dried toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.” One of the sites appeared to be a brand new landfill as the ground was still wet,” the affidavit reads .

Last Sunday, the same person called the sheriff’s investigator and reported that the wildlife cameras had captured evidence of vehicles and a backhoe at the landfill, according to police. Sheriff’s deputies said they arrived and found Sindi Veterer, owner of A-Action Sanitation Inc., her husband Weston, and Torgerson.

According to the affidavit, Weston was caught operating a backhoe to clean up the area where the landfills were located. According to the document, Torgerson admitted to dumping human waste in the area. When Sindi learned what Torgerson had done, Sindi told investigators that the three decided to clean up the mess, the affidavit said.

“None of the parties present said they reported the incident to anyone and did not receive permission from the state that owns the property where the human waste was dumped to dig or alter the land,” the affidavit reads Explanation.

Garfield County Sheriff’s spokesman Joseph Adams said the veterans and Torgerson were arrested and taken to the Garfield County Jail but are currently out on bail awaiting trial. Meanwhile, he added, investigations are still ongoing.

So far, investigators say they’ve uncovered a number of dumps within a half-mile radius, most of which are on slopes about “50 or 60 feet” from the banks of Asay Creek, about a mile south of where it flows into the Asay Creek the Sevier River.

Adams said the multiple locations indicate the July 15 garbage disposal was not a one-off incident.

“We’re still going through the evidence to find out when this started,” he said.

To answer these and other questions, the Garfield and Kane County Sheriff’s Departments are working together to search the business records of Sindi Vetere’s Fredonia, Arizona company to determine if there is a pattern.

“We want to know if [Torgerson] He acted … on his own or when the company had any idea of ​​what he was doing or directed him to do so,” Adams said, adding that there may be other illegal landfills that investigators are still aware of at the time Knowing nothing.

“We’re trying to figure all this out,” he continued. “Part of it goes through [A-Action Sanitation’s] Records, computers and phones. We have some of these and have sent them to the crime lab.”

In addition to the legal jeopardy, the veterans and the company could face additional penalties and enforcement action from the state. The Utah Division of Water Quality and the Southwest Utah Public Health Department have dispatched engineers to the site to assess the extent of the damage and the risk to the area’s waterways, which include fishing and cattle watering.

Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Ashley Sumner said the engineers’ priority is to clean up the site.

“If there is an impact on the water, we certainly have enforcement powers,” she said. “But at this point it is too early to make such a decision.”

Sindi Vetere could not be reached for comment on the allegations against her, her husband and Torgerson. She is known in Kanab for her failed 2021 mayoral campaign. She lost to the winner Colten Johnson by a large margin.

She has posted pictures on social media showing she was inside the US Capitol during the deadly January 6 riots, but is not among the accused. In a Facebook post, she is pictured with two young girls standing outside the Capitol during the riot. In another post, she blames Antifa invaders for the violence in the Capitol.

“Our government bused in Antifa and then took a stand to protect themselves,” she wrote.

Sindi Vetere’s company, a division of RD&B Enterprises Sage Excavation, has operated in southern Utah and northern Arizona for more than 30 years.

Justin Scaccy

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