THOUSAND OAKS : Man Sentenced in Toxic-Dumping Case

A former Thousand Oaks man who pleaded guilty to felony charges of dumping toxic waste from a now-defunct Simi Valley dyeing plant has been sentenced to three years probation and five months in a halfway house.

Richard Virgil Bates, president and operator of Melody Knitting Mills, also known as Travelin' West Textiles, was sentenced this week by federal Judge Robert M. Takasugi.

Under the terms of the sentencing, Bates, 54, must also perform 100 hours of community service and pay the cost of his stay at a halfway house, federal prosecutor Marc S. Harris said.

One of Bates' employees, Kenneth Arthur Baber, 46, of Carson, who served as plant engineer, was sentenced to three years probation, three months in a halfway house and 100 hours of community service, Harris said.

Bates and Baber pleaded guilty Jan. 18 to two felony violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

The dye plant closed in 1989 after a 13-year history of waste-water discharge violations, disgorging up to 500,000 gallons of tainted water a day onto Simi Valley's streets and sewer system.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began investigating in 1988, issuing three cease and desist orders and forcing the plant to shut down.

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