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Man sentenced after barrels of chemicals found on his property
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) Years after the chemicals were discovered, a Kalamazoo County man who had hundreds of barrels of chemicals buried in his backyard finally learns his sentence.
It's the latest development in a story Newschannel 3 broke five years ago.
Monday a judge sentenced Donald Haugen to five years of probation and almost $3 million in restitution.
It wasn't until a fire on Haugen's Texas Township property in 2008 that anyone knew what he was hiding there.
Fire crews and police found around 500 barrels of chemicals.
Monday at his sentencing prosecutors from the Attorney General's office say at the time Haugen didn't tell firefighters what was there.
It put them in harms way more than their usual capacity and work and I just want to point that out to the court," says William Rollstin with the Attorney Generals Office.
The judge pointed out at the time the discovery caused panic in the neighborhood.
"Just about everyone in this community gets their drinking water from groundwater and there is a heightened concern here about what goes in the soil and ultimately the groundwater," says Judge Richardson Johnson.
The case dragged on for five years but was set to go to trial this year until Haugen accepted a plea deal in May.
His attorney today pointed out testing shows there will likely not be long term damage from the chemicals.
"Fear is a powerful emotion and I recognize that, I'm sure I would feel the same in that position. But fear is different than harm your honor, I don't believe anyone was actually harmed in this," says defense attorney Anastasi Marco.
Haugens 3 million dollar fine will go to cover the costs of the massive EPA cleanup.