County takes tougher stance on illegal dumping

The arrest of an illegal trash dumper Monday is just one example of Mohave County's tougher stance against littering.

"We consider littering a very serious crime," Sheriff Tom Sheahan said.

"And when we catch the person responsible in a case, they are going to jail."

That is exactly what happened when the Mohave County Sheriff's Office received a call of suspicious activity just after 11 a.m.

Monday near the intersection of North Bank Street and Jagerson.

When deputies responded to site north of Kingman, they allegedly found Robert James Bufano, 43, illegally disposing of his garbage.

Bufano was made to retrieve the trash and put it back into his pickup.

The pickup was towed and impounded, and Bufano was booked into the Mohave County jail on the felony charge of criminal littering, sheriff's spokesman Jarrod Lyman, said.

Mohave County Chief Deputy Attorney Jace Zack said littering becomes a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, when one or more of three conditions exist: the trash weighs 300 pounds or more, is 100-cubic feet in volume or more, or if the trash is dumped for commercial purposes, as when an individual or company is paid to dump someone else's trash.

Sheahan said the arrest mirrors the department's new stance on illegal dumping.

"We are cracking down on this problem.

We take it very seriously," he said of wildcat dumping on county back roads.

"We are also working on two other cases.

"The sheriff's office is working hand-in-hand with the Mohave County Attorney's Office to alleviate the litter problem in the county."

Zack said there have been no other felony littering cases and few misdemeanor cases since Jan.

1.

"We do our best to prosecute every crime," he said.

"It is a difficult crime because people don't dump in front of deputies."

He said it is easier to arrest perpetrators for illegal dumping if they are caught in the act.

Anyone convicted of misdemeanor littering is fined up to $2,500 or sentenced to six months in jail, or both.

Felony littering is punishable by up to two years in prison and increased fines.

It had been hoped that a new ordinance, introduced around the first of the year, would produce more wildcat dumping arrests.

The ordinance augments the state law, making owners of illegally dumped trash solely responsible for their garbage, no matter who dumped it.

Last November, Zack, who introduced the ordinance, said it would give attorneys more leeway in prosecuting illegal littering because items found at an illegal dumpsite, such as someone's name on a piece of mail, could be used for evidence.

However, no one has been arrested under the new ordinance so far this year, Zack said.

Local residents, public officials and environmentalists have said wildcat dumping is one of the county's biggest problems.

Mohave County District I Supervisor Pete Byers has said the situation "is mind-boggling" and that the county receives thousands of complaints a year regarding trash in the county.

As well as being an eyesore, piles of trash everywhere create a fire danger, are a health risk and cause a multitude of other problems.