ILWACO — A former Ilwaco wastewater treatment plant manager is scheduled to go to trial on Aug. 21.
In November 2017, the state Attorney General’s Office filed nine felony charges against Warren Hazen, 56. The former plant manager is accused of falsifying monthly water quality reports from December 2014 to August 2015. The charges came after the Department of Ecology and the AG’s Counsel for Environmental Protection investigated allegations of mismanagement at the plant.
Former Ilwaco Mayor Mike Cassinelli fired Hazen and his son-in-law and fellow plant operator David Gustafson in 2015. Cassinelli did not give a reason for firing them at the time. Later, he said it was because an investigation found that the two spent much of their work time surfing the web. The plant operator who took over after Hazen and Gustafson were fired told city and Department of Ecology officials she had concerns about the way the plant had been managed. Her concerns included missing documentation, improperly stored chemicals and indications that mandatory testing had not been performed.
Hazen denies falsifying the records. He and his wife, Laurie Hazen, have said they believe Cassinelli wanted to retaliate after Hazen raised concerns about unethical disposal of waste products and dirty water in the Port of Ilwaco.
Hazen initially said he would hire a lawyer and fight the charges, but he was ultimately assigned a public defender, David Arcurri. Pacific County Superior Court Judge Doug Goelz recused himself from the case. Instead, the case is being heard by Lewis County Judge Andrew Toynbee. Assistant Attorney Generals Scott Marlow and Michael Hemker are representing the state. Hazen waived his right to a jury trial. Instead, he will have a bench trial, meaning that the judge alone will decide the case.
The state filed a list of potential witnesses that includes an AGO investigator, water quality experts from Department of Ecology, the replacement wastewater treatment plant operator, Gustafson and Ariel Smith, a former Ilwaco city clerk who now works for the city of Long Beach.
Under Washington law, offering a false statement for filing or record is a Class C felony. Each of the nine charges carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.