*Editor’s note – This story has been updated to include more information about one of the defendants*
KEWAUNEE, Wis. (WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Justice released information about an alleged conspiracy to overspread manure that resulted in high E. Coli bacteria readings.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, charges have been filed against three people for allegedly conspiring to submit forged report to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The release identifies the following three people who were charged:
- Johannes Wakker
- Owner of a dairy farm
- Gregory Stodola
- Hired to spread manure on Wakker’s land
- Benjamin Koss
- Consultant hired by Wakker to file a required report about the manure spreading
The complaint alleges that Wakker owned a dairy farm and needed to get rid of excess manure back in late 2019. Wakker then hired Stodola, who is the husband of Local 5’s Milliane Wells, to spread the manure on his land.
It is alleged that Stodola spread the manure on multiple fields, but the amount ‘so far exceeded’ what Wakker’s permit allowed. This reportedly resulted in pollution discharges into tributaries leading to Lake Michigan with E. Coli bacteria readings up to 100 times those that would result in closing a public beach.
Due to the large amount of manure spread exceeding the amount allowed by Wakker’s DNR permit, Stodola allegedly created a document that ‘grossly underreported’ the manure that was actually spread. This number was allegedly underreported by over 1.9 million gallons.
This document was then allegedly given to Wakker, who then gave it to Koss. Koss was a consultant hired by Wakker to file a required report with the DNR about the manure spreading. It is alleged that Koss knew the information was false and manipulated the numbers to even more to ‘calibrate the books’.
By allegedly doing this, the reported numbers would fit within DNR regulations when filing the report.
Our environmental laws and regulations are important safeguards protecting clean water for Wisconsinites, and those who are required to report to DNR must provide accurate information.Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul