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TDEC Leads Investigation to Convict Memphis Business Owner for Illegal Dumping

Friday, August 22, 2014 | 09:00am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), along with the City of Memphis and Shelby County recently prosecuted a Memphis business owner for illegal dumping.

TDEC investigators worked closely with leaders from the City of Memphis and the Shelby County District Attorney to prosecute and obtain a conviction of Thomas Bolton, an excavation-company owner, for three counts of vandalism, three counts of theft of property, operating an illegal landfill and illegal transportation, processing or disposing of solid waste. 

“We take these situations very seriously. Not only was the dumping illegal, but the environmental factors that play a role in situations like this can be significant. The purpose of licensed landfills is for waste disposal.” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “A special thanks to the City of Memphis and Shelby County for partnering with us in these efforts.”

Bolton’s company, B&W Excavating Company, contracted with the city to bulldoze hundreds of condemned houses. Instead of disposing of materials legally, he saved himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in disposal fees by dumping drywall, roof shingles, carpets, concrete, boards and other household trash on privately owned land in Southwest Memphis.   

Judge L.T. Lafferty sentenced Thomas Bolton to eight months in prison with no parole for illegally dumping construction materials. Lafferty ordered Bolton to make restitution of $1.56 million to the three landowners and to perform 100 hours of community service annually while on probation for 15 years. The judge also ordered Bolton to clean and restore the victims’ properties and to notify TDEC of any other projects if he continues in the excavation business.

“This case should serve as a warning to others that such criminal behavior will not be tolerated in Shelby County,” said Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich. “People must understand that illegal dumping is a serious crime and that we will continue to work with our state, county and city partners to identify offenders and bring them to justice.” 

The mission of the TDEC’s Division of Solid Waste Management is to protect health and improve environmental quality for all Tennesseans through responsive and effective oversight of waste management activities. For more information, please visit


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Press Releases | Environment & Conservation