Meat Processor Indicted
A mesquite meat market owner and employee have been indicted on felony charges for illegal commercial waste disposal and another employee pled guilty to a lesser charge after Texas Parks and Wildlife Department investigators collected evidence alleging that the men dumped white-tailed deer carcasses from more than 700 animals near streams that feed Lake Tawakoni.
Investigator Kevin Davis with the TPWD environmental crimes unit in Dallas says the dumping occurred during deer hunting season last November through this January. The carcasses were dumped adjacent to creeks in Rockwall and Hunt Counties. Rockwall County Assistant Health Coordinator Ron Merit found the carcasses and notified local TPWD game wardens, who tracked deer tags on them to Gorman's Meat Market in Mesquite. (Hunters are required to attach paper tags to each deer they harvest.) Davis and fellow investigator Joe Bostick then worked with county district attorney's offices to complete the investigation.
"From a public health standpoint, decaying animal carcasses can cause harmful bacteria and other problems," Davis said. "It's not something you want to put into a drinking water supply lake, or in any public water."
Meat market owner Ashley Gorman, 33, of Rockwall, was indicted by a Rockwall County grand jury in March for felony illegal commercial waste disposal under the Texas Health and Safety Code. Employee Brian Purnell, 31, of Quinlan was indicted on the same charge. Similar indictments followed in Hunt County in April. Another employee, Ricky Kleibrink, 37, of Royce City, pled guilty to a lesser charge. All three men turned themselves in to authorities earlier this spring. Gorman and Purnell are now awaiting trial.
"This is the first time I've seen a meat processor do anything like this, as most of them are pretty good about obeying the law," Davis said.
"It's not difficult to properly dispose of deer. You can use a commercial dumpster-that can cause an odor problem for the neighbors, but you can treat that with lime. You can also haul carcasses to a landfill or rendering plant."
Davis is one of a relatively new breed of wildlife law enforcement agents that focus on environmental crimes that affect fish and wildlife. TPWD started its environmental crimes unit in the 1990s, working with other agencies in the Texas Environmental Enforcement Task Force. TPWD environmental crimes investigators now work out of Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Houston.