A Starke County mint farmer has pleaded guilty to knowingly discharging pollutants without a permit in violations of the Clean Water Act.
Michael Materna, 56, of Hamlet was operating a still which harvests mint leaves and distills them to create mint oil. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, water that was heated to temperatures of 160 to 190 degrees and mint oil was also being discharged from the facility into a roadside ditch which then flowed into the stream. The water reportedly scalded a dog to death when Starke County resident, Pete Dailey’s, dog entered the heated water. Charges were filed May 31st as a result of an investigation by the Envrionmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division and IDEM.