Farmer pleads guilty to fisheries and crop rotation charges

Colin MacLean
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Facts and sentencing scheduled for January

SUMMERSIDE – After more than year of legal wrangling, charges stemming from one of the largest fish kills in this province’s history are finally coming to a close.

Summerside courthouse. File photo

Mount Royal potato farmer Warren Ellis, 57, pleaded guilty Monday to two of the six outstanding charges against him and his company Warren Ellis Produce Inc.

Ellis pleaded guilty to one Federal Fisheries Act count of allowing a deleterious substance to enter a waterway, and one charge under the provincial Crop Rotation Act of planting potatoes in the same field twice in less than three years.

The four other charges, three counts under the Crop Rotation Act against Ellis and one count under the Federal Fisheries Act against his company, were dropped. 

The case will be called again on Jan 9, at 2 p.m. for facts and sentencing.

The fisheries charges were laid on July 10, 2012, a little less than a year after thousands of fish were discovered dead in a section of the Trout River after heavy rainfall.

The crop rotation charges were laid in early June of 2013. 

Both cases had been delayed for various reasons; most recently, each faced a related charter application.

In the case of the fisheries charges, Ellis’ lawyer had argued that his client’s rights were violated during the process of officials obtaining a search warrant used to build their case. A judge later dismissed that application.

A second charter application had been outstanding on the crop rotation charges. It had been made by Knutsford famer Avard Smallman, 63, and Sweet Farms Inc. Both of those parties are facing one count each under the Crop Rotation Act.

Smallman and Sweet Farms Inc. were charged on the same day as Ellis but the two cases were separate.

That charter application had been scheduled for decision later this month.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

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