Crime & Courts

2 Seward men charged with illegally dumping oily fluid in Chugach National Forest

A federal grand jury in Anchorage indicted two Seward men accused of dumping more than a dozen 55-gallon drums containing an oily substance into the Chugach National Forest in summer 2018, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska.

James Withrow, 56, and Bruce Jackson, 66 and known as “Bruce Baker,” worked together to illegally dump the 15 drums on June 1, 2018, the five-page indictment said.

The dumping caused more than $80,000 in damage at the Granite Creek recreation area off the Seward Highway south of Anchorage, the indictment said.

The area includes the Granite Creek Campground, about 65 miles south of Anchorage.

The men removed the drums from Jackson’s property in Seward the day before the dumping and drove in a tractor-trailer together to Anchorage, the indictment said. Withrow dumped the items after driving down a road in the recreation area marked with signs that said “No Public Access” and “No Dumping,” the indictment said.

About six days after the incident, Withrow falsely claimed to a Forest Service special agent that he’d been hired to pick up the drums and drive them back to Anchorage when, in fact, he’d driven them to the recreation area to dump them, the indictment said.

The indictment, filed Nov. 19, brings three counts. It charges the men with damaging U.S. property. Withrow also made false statements to a U.S. Forest Service special agent, it says.

The men’s initial court appearance is set for Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kyle F. Reardon of the U.S. District Court of Alaska.

Withrow faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Jackson faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.