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Eau Claire County Man Convicted of Environmental Violations


MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that on April 26, 2012, Matthew R. Hagen, of Altoona, was convicted of a series of criminal charges arising from his theft of scrap metal from his employer and his refining of the metal in acid to recover its gold. Hagen was charged in Eau Claire County Circuit Court by the District Attorney's office with felony theft for taking gold-plated stainless steel slug tabs from his employer, Hutchinson Technology, Inc., without its consent (10-CF-208). The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Hagen with a series of criminal hazardous waste violations for soaking the slug tabs in acid, skimming off the freed gold, and leaving the waste acid in the Eau Claire County Forest where the processing took place, or storing the waste acid in his garage (10-CF-753).


The waste acid found in the county forest was initially investigated by the DOJ, Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) as a possible drug lab. When it became clear that it was a gold refining lab, the investigation was turned over to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR investigated the violations and referred the matter to the DOJ for prosecution.


On April 26, 2012, on the environmental charges in 10-CF-753, Hagen pled guilty to disposing and storing hazardous waste without a license and failing to submit hazardous waste reports to the DNR, as required by Wisconsin law. Eau Claire County Judge Paul J. Lenz placed Hagen on probation for three years with a condition that he serve four months in jail and pay a fine of $100.00 and costs, and $4,187.05 in restitution to the DNR for its expenses.


In 10-CF-208, Hagen pled guilty to one count of felony theft and five counts of misdemeanor theft. Judge Lenz placed Hagen on probation for three years with a condition that he pay $55,625.80 in restitution to Hutchinson Technology, Inc., and serve five months in jail, concurrent to the jail sentence that he received for the environmental violations.


The environmental case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Steven Tinker.


Copies of the Criminal Complaint and Amended Information are available at the following links: