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Liberty Co. company hit with $250K fine

LIBERTY COUNTY— A local fabricating company, which filed for bankruptcy protection a year ago, has been hit with one-quarter of a million dollars in fines for violating state environmental laws.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, on May 23, announced that its environmental crimes unit investigation of a Liberty County storage tank manufacturer culminated in a guilty plea and criminal fines totaling $250,000.
Ricardo Gonzales, the president of R & K Fabricating Inc., pleaded guilty to two charges of intentionally and knowingly violating the Texas Clean Air Act.
Gonzalez will serve a term of probation for one year, and was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and cease operations until his facility is in compliance with TCEQ rules.
In the second charge, Gonzales received an additional $50,000 fine. R & K Fabricating Inc. also pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $175,000 fine.
A TCEQ criminal investigator, with assistance from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Environmental Crimes Unit, discovered that Gonzales intentionally and knowingly violated the Texas Clean Air Act and TCEQ rules by operating his manufacturing facility without TCEQ permits required for sandblasting and spray painting operations.
The case was prosecuted by the Travis County Attorney’s office, in cooperation with the Texas Environmental Enforcement Task Force.
In 2005, Gonzales was charged and received deferred adjudication for a similar air pollution offense. In that case, Gonzales paid a $1,800 fine and performed community service.
On May 10, 2010 R&K filed a petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court/ Southern District of Texas for Chapter 11 protection.