Former FD landfill director’s trial date set

A trial for the former landfill director accused of theft has been set for the end of September.

Michael Grell’s jury trial has been scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Sept. 30. Grell has filed a not guilty plea in the Iowa District Court for Webster County.

Grell was charged July 21 with theft by misappropriation of resources during his time as landfill director at the North Central Iowa Regional Solid Waste Agency.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation alleges that Grell used landfill equipment, personnel and other resources to remove topsoil from his private property from early spring 2012 through the winter of 2012.

The allegedly misused resources had a value of more than $10,000, according to the criminal complaint.

Grell resigned as landfill director in April 2013, several months after an audit of the waste agency uncovered questionable practices at the landfill. The audit report, released December 2013, listed issues including hiring a company owned by Grell’s son to haul gravel without doing the proper bidding process, and improper sale of adjoining land.

The waste agency is also currently in negotiations with the Iowa Attorney General’s office regarding alleged environmental violations, which regulators say were ongoing at the landfill from 2008 to 2010.

The Department of Natural Resources said the landfill placed solid waste in an unlined area, did not control litter properly or use proper daily cover, and failed to correctly dispose of the liquid waste which trickles down through the garbage in the landfill.

Interim Director Cindy Turkle has said she believes those violations occurred because previous employees at the agency weren’t aware of the rules. Turkle began serving as the interim director in April 2013.

Grell became landfill director in 2011, and Deb Watson Lentsch became the waste agency’s director of recycling and administration/finance. Watson Lentsch was terminated September 2013.

The Webster County Attorney’s office continues to investigate other issues related to the landfill.