State drops charges against Kewaunee County dairy farm for manure pollution; manure hauler faces lesser charges

Manure (generic)
Manure (generic)(NBC15)
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 2:27 PM CST
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KEWAUNEE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - State prosecutors moved to drop charges against a Kewaunee County dairy farm owner who, along with a manure hauler, was charged with conspiring to submit a forged report to the Department of Natural Resources after an excessive amount of manure pollution.

The State had charged Johannes Wakker, owner of Wakker Dairy, and Benjamin Koss, his consultant who handles reports to the DNR.

In a motion to the court last week, the Wisconsin Department of Justice said dismissing the charges “is in the interest of justice.”

The state is still prosecuting Gregory Stodola and his company, Stodola Ag. Transport, on 3 counts of Pollution by Willful Water Discharge.

As we reported in December, according to the criminal complaint, Wakker hired Stodola to help him get rid of excess manure from his animal feeding operation by spreading it on other property Wakker owned.

The complaint alleges the amount of manure far exceeded what Wakker’s permit allowed, resulting in pollution from the manure getting into tributaries leading to Lake Michigan. The Department of Justice wrote E. coli bacteria readings were 100 times the amount that would close a public beach.

But, the DOJ claims, Stodola created a document under-reporting the amount of manure by over 1.9 million gallons.

According to the complaint, Wakker gave the document to Koss, who manipulated the numbers to “calibrate the books” so the report would fit within DNR regulations.

Wakker and Koss were charged with Conspiracy to Commit a Crime and being party to the crime of Fraudulent Writing. The court accepted the State’s motion to dismiss those charges without prejudice.

Stodola and his Luxemburg company were charged with Conspiracy and Fraudulent Writing and being party to the crime of Discharging Pollutants into the Waters of the State. Prosecutors amended the complaint in January so Stodola and Stodola Ag. Transport are charged with the 3 counts of pollution. They’re misdemeanors that carry no more than 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.