An EPA fugitive captured after a year on the run was sentenced last week to 20 years in prison for environmental and other crimes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Court documents indicate that while apprehending the man last March, enforcement officers shot him when he threatened them with a semi-automatic rifle.
Larkin Baggett, formerly of Salt Lake City, UT, was sentenced to 20 years in jail on October 14, 2009, in U.S. District Court in Key West, FL, for illegally dumping pollutants, illegally possessing firearms, and aggravated assault on law enforcement officers.
Baggett owned and operated Chemical Consultants, Inc. in North Salt Lake City, UT, a company that mixed and sold chemical products used in the construction, concrete, and trucking industries.
In September 2007, Baggett was indicted in the District of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, on four felony counts of violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and two felony counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act Title, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to court records, Baggett instructed his employees to dispose of industrial wastes by dumping them onto the ground and into a sanitary sewer drain, which fed directly to a wastewater treatment plant operated by the South Davis Sewer Improvement District in West Bountiful, UT. The treatment plant had a permit to discharge treated effluent to the Jordan River, which empties into the Great Salt Lake, but Baggett’s actions allegedly caused the plant to violate permit limits for acute toxicity 22 times.
In April 2008, two months before his trial, Baggett became a fugitive when he failed to appear in court. EPA received a tip regarding his potential whereabouts in December 2008, after he was listed on the EPA’s fugitive web site.
Before becoming a fugitive, Baggett was personally warned by a Magistrate Justice that he was prohibited from possessing any firearms, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida. However, when EPA special agents and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputies located Baggett in Marathon, FL, in March 2009, and attempted to execute an arrest warrant, he threatened the officers with a semi-automatic rifle, which he had equipped with two thirty-round magazines of ammunition, taped together for quick reload. According to in-court statements, he failed to obey commands to show his hands, and when he attempted to aim at one or more of the officers, the officers opened fire in self-defense, seriously wounding Baggett. After his arrest, it was found that Baggett was in possession of four rifles and four pistols, all of which had been purchased prior to his indictment in Utah. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, prior to fleeing Utah, Baggett had told friends that he would not go back to jail and instead would “go down in a blaze of glory.”
According to the EPA, Baggett pleaded guilty in July 2009 to possessing eight firearms while a fugitive from justice in Utah, three counts of assaulting EPA Special Agents, one count related to assaulting a Monroe County deputy sheriff, and two guilty pleas on the counts brought against him in Utah, which charged he violated an effluent standard, pretreatment standard, and prohibition, and that he illegally disposed of hazardous waste without a permit.
Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced him to 240 months imprisonment and restitution of $39,000 for losses caused to the operator of the Publicly Owned Treatment Works in Utah, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Judge Moore noted that Baggett had demonstrated contempt for the law over a sustained period of time, and without a significant sentence, there would be no assurance that he would be deterred from future crimes.
After the sentencing, Brett L. Tolman, U.S. Attorney for Utah, stated, “Today’s sentence is appropriate given the serious nature of Mr. Baggett’s conduct. From his unlawful disposal of hazardous and corrosive waste in Utah, his decision to flee from justice in Utah, and ultimately his assault on officers attempting to arrest him in Florida, Mr. Baggett has demonstrated that those who commit environmental crimes can be just as dangerous as other violent criminals.”