Owner pleads not guilty to Sierra mine charges

Apr 11, 2012, 12:36 AM

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) – The co-owner of a gold mine in the Sierra foothills pleaded not guilty Tuesday to operating the mine illegally and causing environmental damage.

Joseph Hardesty entered the plea during his arraignment, said El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Mike Pizzuti.

Hardesty, 55, is charged with grading the Gold Rush-era mine near Placerville, which is about 45 miles east of Sacramento. He also is charged with operating heavy equipment without permits, causing air pollution and allowing hazardous fluids to reach a nearby creek.

His attorney, William Brewer, did not return a telephone message seeking comment. Brewer previously said his client has a historic right to operate the Big Cut Mine on nearly 150 acres he bought in 2005.

The mine’s co-owner, 44-year-old Rick Churches, faces similar charges in a 24-count complaint. He did not show up for Tuesday’s arraignment, and Pizzuti said Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister told prosecutors to prepare an arrest warrant for Churches.

The charges are the latest round in a three-year fight with state and local authorities over the mine in the Sierra foothills between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

The mine’s operators also face state fines of more than $900,000. The fines were levied in January by the State Mining and Geology Board, a division of the California Department of Conservation.

Authorities say the men brought in millions of dollars’ worth of heavy equipment to cut into a steep ridge.

Inspectors say they found gold on a shaker table used to separate the heavy precious metal from sand and gravel laid down in an ancient riverbed that crosses the property. They say Churches told an inspector their goal was to mine gold and sell the gravel at a time when the price of gold was hovering around $1,700 an ounce.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - Planes sit on the tarmac at the Des Moines International Airport, Monday, June 13, 2022, in ...
Associated Press

Airlines aim to shift blame for flight problems to FAA

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines under scrutiny for widespread flight disruptions are renewing their criticism of the government agency that manages the nation’s airspace, saying that understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration is “crippling” traffic along the East Coast. Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. carriers, said Friday it wants to know FAA’s staffing […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Investigators search for evidences outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, ...
Associated Press

Graduating Uvalde High School class remembers slain children

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Almost 300 high school seniors received their diplomas Friday in Uvalde in the shadow of the massacre of 19 elementary school students and two teachers one month earlier. The 288 red-gowned Uvalde High School seniors sat in 100-degree heat at the school stadium on the one-month anniversary of the mass shootings. […]
21 hours ago
Nancy Lee Grahn arrives with the words "Reproductive Freedom" on her body and carries a purse with ...
Associated Press

‘General Hospital’ sweeps supporting nods at Daytime Emmys

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Two “General Hospital” actors have won supporting honors at the Daytime Emmy Awards. Kelly Thiebaud plays Dr. Britt Westbourne and Jeff Kober portrays Cyrus Renault on the ABC drama. A gleeful Thiebaud won on her first nomination Friday night. “I cannot believe this. I am so shocked,” she said. “My brother, […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

California GOP Rep. Valadao advances in US House district

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rep. David Valadao advanced Friday to a November runoff in a Democratic-tilting district in California’s Central Valley, surviving a challenge from a fellow Republican who faulted the congressman for his vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump. With most of the votes tallied in the 22nd District, Valadao had about 26% of […]
21 hours ago
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months through 5 years old is seen, Tuesday, ...
Associated Press

Moderna COVID-19 shots now an option for older kids in US

NEW YORK (AP) — There is now a second COVID-19 option for kids ages 6 to 17 in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced it is recommending Moderna shots as an option for school-age kids and teens. This group has been able to get shots made by Pfizer since […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

NY lawmakers to mull post-Supreme Court gun bills next week

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is bringing state lawmakers back on Thursday to consider gun safety legislation in response to the Supreme Court striking down key portions of the state’s licensing law. The court on Thursday overturned the state law that required that people applying for a concealed carry […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
Owner pleads not guilty to Sierra mine charges