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Great responsibility can lead to serious accusations

Any form of criminal charge can change your life indefinitely. However, as many residents of South Carolina are aware, federal charges can be even more severe. In many cases they carry greater fines, longer sentences and harsher repercussions. However, something that not everyone realizes is that it is not only individuals that can be charged with federal crimes. Entire firms can even be charged under certain circumstances.

In one such case, a well-known energy company has been charged with illegal pollution. Duke Energy, a company which serves over 7 million customers across the United States, including in South Carolina, has been called up over its coal ash dumps which are allegedly leaking pollution. As a result, the business is faced with multiple charges filed by federal prosecutors.

The initial investigation occurred in February 2014 following the collapse of a pipe at a dump in North Carolina. According to reports, over 70 miles of nearby river developed a coating of gray sludge as a result. Now it is alleged that the energy company’s irresponsible dumping might date back to 2010, or perhaps earlier.

The company has agreed to a plea deal, meaning it will plead guilty to the alleged offense. However, this means the cost of a trial is avoided and the penalties are negotiated. Duke is expected to pay fines of $102 million, a cost that will impact shareholders. However the company does not intend to take that money from the customers.

Cases like this are not uncommon. All too quickly a problem can spiral out of control resulting in serious charges and even more serious penalties. If you have been charged with a federal crime, you might benefit from the advice of an attorney. He or she may also be able to assist you with your defense as you work to protect your good name.

Source: Indianapolis Business Journal, “U.S. charges Duke with illegal pollution from coal ash dumps,” Feb. 23, 2015

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