Alleva, Grubstake Auction Co. sentenced in chemical misuse case
State prosecutors argue he could have hurt people, but Ron Alleva says he was trying to help. The Anchorage businessman was sentenced Tuesday, after a jury found him guilty of multiple misdemeanor environmental crimes.
In June 2018, Alleva told his employees to sprinkle Zappit, a chlorine bleach powder, on the sidewalk areas along Karluk Street near Bean’s Café and Brother Francis Shelter in downtown Anchorage, an area often occupied with homeless individuals who receive services from both agencies.
Alleva owns Grubstake Auction Company, located along the same block. He has long expressed concern about a problem he says the homeless have created in the area, including trespassing and other crimes. He was also upset over large amounts of garbage, including syringes, used condoms and fecal matter on and around his property.
His effort the clean up the area triggered a hazmat response from the Anchorage Fire Department, and the removal of 1,400 pounds of contaminated soil, according to the Attorney General's Office.
"Alleva's conduct, along with that of Grubstake Auction Co., Inc. and its employees endangered the health and welfare of individuals, putting them at risk of serious physical injury including blindness and even death had the substance been ingested," a previous statement from the attorney general read.
In April, a jury convicted Alleva of reckless endangerment, pollution, unauthorized pesticide distribution and misuse of a pesticide.
At his sentencing Tuesday, Alleva maintained his initial claim that he had spoken with the Municipality of Anchorage about cleaning up the area and that he was given permission to sprinkle the powder, though the city insists that never happened.
He expressed his frustration with what he sees happening in the area and explained his efforts over the years to be part of a solution. He also said he won't do it again, and that he did not act with malicious intent.
"When I saw the feces material and the filth at Third and Karluk, well, it was 200 feet from Kids Kitchen where they make 1,200 to 1,500 meals a day," he explained. "My thought was to protect that vulnerable population."
The court received several letters on Alleva's behalf, and Alleva's daughter delivered an emotional statement that Anchorage District Court Judge Leslie Dickson said she found impactful.
Downtown Anchorage Assembly member Chris Constant also spoke during the hearing. He acknowledged that Alleva should not have spread the pool cleaner without warning or direction, but said the court should also consider the source of frustration that drove him to do it.
"I think the city and the state own at least an equal share in the liability of this problem, and I would ask you to account for that in your decision making today," he told Judge Dickson, "because the failure is not [Alleva’s], the failure is all of us driving our problems there and thinking what we’ve done is good and right."
Alleva is sentenced to serve one year of probation, complete 40 hours of community service with Habitat for Humanity, and attend a 12-week anger management course. He is also ordered to pay the cost of the city's response to the incident, which came to $6,496.47.
Grubstake Auction Co. is ordered to pay three times that amount in restitution.
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