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Three charged in Kewaunee County in conspiracy to overspread manure

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Posted at 2:03 PM, Dec 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-05 18:27:06-05

KEWAUNEE COUNTY (NBC 26) — Charges have been filed against the owner of a Kewaunee County farm and two others for allegedly underreporting the amount of manure spread on several fields, leading to illegal pollution.

According to the criminal complaint, Johannes Wakker owned a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) and needed to get rid of excess manure in late 2019.

Wakker hired Gregory Stodola to spread the manure on Wakker's land.

The amount of manure spread by Stodola exceeded Wakker's permit.

Due to the excess amount of manure, a pollution discharge went into tributaries leading to Lake Michigan with E. Coli bacteria reading as much as 100 times. This resulted in the closure of a public beach, prosecutors said.

Because a large amount of manure spread on the Wakker farm exceeded the amount allowed by a DNR permit, the complaint alleges that Stodola produced a document that largely underreported the manure actually spread, by over 1.9 million gallons.

The complaint alleges that Stodola gave this document to Wakker who then gave it to Benjamin Koss, a defendant consultant hired by Wakker to file a required report about the manure spreading with DNR.

According to the criminal complaint, knowing that the information in the document was false, Koss manipulated the numbers even further to "calibrate the books" so that the reported numbers would fit within DNR regulations before filing a report with the false information with the DNR.

“Our environmental laws and regulations are important safeguards protecting clean water for Wisconsinites, and those who are required to report to DNR must provide accurate information,” said AG Josh Kaul. “Thank you to the DNR wardens and prosecutors who have been working on this case.”

A total of eight counts have been listed in the criminal complaint

  • Conspiracy to Commit a Crime
  • Fraudulent Writing, PTAC as to Wakker
  • Fraudulent Writing, PTAC as to Stodola
  • Fraudulent Writing, PTAC as to Koss
  • Fraudulent Writing as to Stodola
  • Three counts of Discharging Pollutants into Waters of the State

Kewaunee County Circuit court lists an initial appearance scheduled for Jan. 12, 2023.