Huntingdon County tire dump case moves forward

Following a nearly two-hour preliminary, District Justice Mary Jamison ruled the state had made a prima fascia case against Gerald Booher on three misdemeanor counts, and sent the case to Huntingdon County Criminal Court.
State Attorney General Mike Fisher announced July 2 that his office had filed the misdemeanor charges against Booher, 67, of Shirleysburg, for storing as many as 300,000 waste tires on property in Cromwell Township that Booher and his mother, Elda Myers, own.
Presenting the commonwealth’s case to the district justice were Deputy Attorney General Andrew Thiros of the environmental crimes section and Huntingdon County District Attorney Robert Stewart III.
Booher, who was accompanied to the hearing by his son, David, is being represented by Pittsburgh attorney Thomas Crawford Jr.
Prior to the preliminary hearing, Booher was formally arraigned by Jamison. Bail was set at $5,000, unsecured.
During the hearing, the state offered three witnesses to give testimony.
• Special agent Rose Ann Clement of the office of attorney general’s environmental crimes section, testified as to an aerial surveillance of the property which took place prior to an April 17, 2003, search of the property, after a warrant had been obtained.
She reported observing the several hundred thousand tires on the property.
• Kristen Bardell, a water pollution biologist with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), said she was part of the team which inspected the property in April.
She said she inspected a large number of tires, and many had water and organic material in them which was a good breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Mosquito breeding areas have been in the news the last couple of years because the insects are a carrier of the West Nile virus.
• Don Korzeniewski of DEP’s permits division, testified there was no permit issued to store waste tires on the Cromwell Township property.
As for the ownership of the property, information supplied by the attorney general’s office indicated that Gerald Booher purchased the property on Aug. 19, 1966. On Jan. 26, 1994, he sold the property to the Sportsman’s Club 2000.
Prior to the selling of the property, Booher had been ordered several times by the then DER (Department of Environmental Resources) and Commonwealth Court to remove the tires. At one time he spent time in jail for not following the court’s directive to remove the tires and pay fines.
Crawford did not offer any witnesses, but he did object strenuously on many occasions to the introduction of exhibits by Thiros.
He argued that the statute of limitations on the charges had expired, and there was no link of Booher to the ownership of the property.
“Gerald Booher is not the sportsman’s club,” argued Crawford.
Booher did not speak during the hearing.
As for any relationship between himself and the tire saturated property, Booher told The Associated Press in a recent account of the charges filed against him, “All I know is it was sold … and it took the land out of my name.”
However, an inquiry by The Daily News to Cromwell Township tax collector Sally Book shows the real estate property tax notice on the farm, located along Route 747, is sent to Sportsman’s Club 2000 in care of Nancy Jaymes, who pays the tax bill. Jaymes is Gerald Booher’s daughter.
The three charges include two counts of unlawful conduct and one violation of regulations concerning permits and licenses.
(Staff writer Rebecca Berdar contributed to this report.)