Ex-Iberia sheriff facing up to a year in prison

by Leslie Turk

Former Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Hebert faces up to a year in prison for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Former Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Hebert and his company pleaded guilty Wednesday to the negligent operation of a water treatment facility in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley announced the guilty plea, noting Hebert has agreed to pay a $50,000 fine and has shut down his company, Environmental Compliance Solutions of New Iberia. He also faces up to a year in prison at sentencing.

ECS, located at 5108 Weeks Island Road in New Iberia, was formed for the purpose of wastewater treatment and discharge and was permitted by the state. The permit allowed ECS to operate as a centralized waste treatment facility.

Hebert, who was part-owner, president and on-site manager at ECS, admitted that he was negligent in the operation procedures at ECS. An inspection of ECS on June 2, 2009, by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revealed that wastewaters were bypassing the filtration system and were ultimately being discharged into the commercial canal located in the Port of Iberia. Hebert, who was ECS' responsible corporate officer from June 2007 through June 2009, according to the U.S. attorney, failed to maintain the required documentation, prepare reports and implement plans, and perform proper testing as mandated by the permit. He and the company were charged in a bill of information Aug. 27 with the Clean Water Act violation, a misdemeanor.

Hebert was Iberia Parish sheriff from 1996 to 2008.

"Protection of our local waters is a priority, and we, along with our partners at EPA and Louisiana DEQ, are committed to making sure that the laws, which are designed to safeguard the citizens of our communities, are enforced," Finley said in announcing the guilty plea.