Developer sentenced for filling in Bay St. Louis wetlands

Published: Apr. 18, 2014 at 3:41 PM CDT
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A real estate developer was sentenced Friday to nine months in jail for filling in wetlands near Bay St. Louis

William R. "Rusty" Miller, a real estate developer from Fairhope, Ala., will also serve six months home confinement, pay a $15,000 fine, $19,246 in victim restitution, and serve a one-year term of supervised release upon completion of his sentence.

Miller pleaded guilty in December 2013 and admitted to excavating and filling wetlands on a 1,710-acre parcel of undeveloped property in Hancock County. Miller was a part-owner of corporations that purchased and intended to develop the land.

According to the felony information, in 2001, when Miller and his companies bought the property, he was told by a wetland expert that as much as 80 percent of the land was federally protected wetland connected by streams and bayous to the Gulf of Mexico and as such could not be developed without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"Mississippi's coastal wetlands are an essential state resource," said U.S. Attorney Davis. "They filter our water, provide us protection from storms, and they are the nurseries for fish and other wildlife. My office has demonstrated many times that we are committed to the protection of our environment. Individuals and companies who illegally develop our wetlands, who chose their own economic interest over the public's interest, will face prosecution and perhaps imprisonment, as the defendant has today."

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