Polluter Begins His Jail Term For Defying Clean-Up Orders

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Photo courtesy Harris County Attorney's office
Luis Ortiz, the polluter who was sentenced to five days' jail time for failing to clean up his auto-salvage business, went behind bars today after a last-ditch effort to stay free.

Ella Tyler of the county attorney's office tells Hair Balls district judge Tony Lindsay ordered Ortiz to begin his sentence even though much of the clean-up has been done.

"It's been a long, long time getting it," she says.

Ortiz and the county have been fighting for three years, and the property owner had ignored several court orders demanding he fix the problem. He had one last chance to argue at a hearing this morning, but Lindsay wasn't impressed.

The judge did offer a chance to delay the sentence so that Ortiz could serve most of it over the Fourth of July weekend (presumably because his business would be closed anyway; maybe, however, she just hates Fourth of July parties and figured Ortiz did too). But he instead opted to head straight for the cell.

In his defense, Ortiz tried to enter into evidence a blog item about how he had donated 50 trees to the neighborhood. Alas, it was not allowed to be entered.

A polluter hasn't been sent to jail via the county attorney's office here for a decade or so; new County Attorney Vince Ryan has said it will be a priority of his office, and the Ortiz case is meant to send a message to other property owners.

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