Felony counts against Dallas slaughterhouse dropped

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by LAUREN ZAKALIK

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaalauren

WFAA

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 9:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 6 at 10:20 PM

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DALLAS — On Tuesday, the Dallas County District Attorney's office dropped all felony charges against Columbia Packing Company in exchange for a misdemeanor guilty plea.

The 100-year-old company will also face a $100,000 fine.

The charges stemmed from a 2012 allegation that the South Dallas facility, which was operating as a slaughterhouse, was draining pigs' blood into the Trinity River.

In response to the plea deal, Columbia's owners released a statement that said the DA's action "...confirms members of the Ondrusek family never knowingly or intentionally dumped waste products into the Trinity River."

The company stopped slaughtering animals at the plant after the allegations surfaced; it is now used as a distribution center.

But Dallas City Council Member Dwaine Caraway is furious. Several agencies investigated the case, and he wants to know who dropped the ball that led to the dropped charges.

No one News 8 spoke to Tuesday — including Zachary Thompson of the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department — could tell us what happened, saying all agencies involved did their due diligence.

Now Caraway is focusing his efforts on removing the packing plant permanently from his southern Dallas district.

"They should not be able to come back to the scene of the crime and continue to operate from any level or any perspective," Caraway said.

Gloria Luster, who can see the plant from her front yard, can also see Caraway's point.

"I don't want to see anyone put out of business or see food taken out of anyone's mouth, but they can take it somewhere else," she said.

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com

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