Restaurant co-owner charged in grease-dumping case

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WALLA WALLA — A local businessman has been charged with trespassing and destroying private property belonging to the executive director of the YMCA.

James B. Sanders, co-owner of Public House 124 restaurant, was charged Friday in Walla Walla County Superior Court with second-degree malicious mischief and three counts of criminal trespass.

Sanders confessed to collecting a combination of grease, chemical and food residue from a trap under his restaurant’s kitchen sink, according to court documents.

Authorities said he took the material to Wauna Vista Drive in his vehicle and dumped it on the lawn of Randy Grant on March 28 and Sept. 13, 2012, and on Jan. 27.

Sanders worked a number of years at the Walla Walla YMCA, becoming executive director before he was fired in October 2009. Grant was hired in January 2010.

The mixture Sanders dumped on Grant’s lawn killed grass and plants and made soil in those spots toxic, resulting in damage estimated at more than $2,200. No environmental agency action has been taken on the soil. The dirt has not yet been removed, according to Clara Grant, who said the family is awaiting restitution from Sanders before moving forward.

Property damage exceeding $750 takes the malicious mischief charge to felony level.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years incarceration and a fine of $10,000. Standard sentencing range, however, is zero to 60 days, said Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle.

“This is called a ‘Level One’ offense, on the lowest corner of the grid,” he said. The trespassing charges each carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Sanders was not arrested but has been ordered to appear in Superior Court on May 13 at 3 p.m.

Reporter Terry McConn contributed to this report.

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