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Posted on Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Charges brought against owner of Washtenaw Avenue auto repair shop suspected of dumping gasoline

By Tom Perkins


A1 Auto Complete Car Care on Washtenaw Avenue. Charges have been brought against the owner because his employees are suspected of dumping what is thought to be gasoline into the sewer.

Tom Perkins | For

A business owner is facing criminal charges after a resident and deputy witnessed his employees dumping gasoline down a sewer, officials said.

According to the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, Jeff Murrillo, owner of A 1 Auto Complete Car Care at 2555 Washtenaw Ave, is being charged with drain polluting stemming from the April 22 incident.

If convicted, Murrillo faces a misdemeanor charge punishable by 90 days in jail and/or a $100 fine.

Murrillo already pleaded no contest in district court to a civil infraction for littering. That ticket was written by Ypsilanti Township ordinance officials.

Murrillo declined to comment until after the case is over.

A Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge also has issued a permanent restraining order barring the owner from violating any township zoning ordinances or illegally dumping anything on the property.

The company is zoned B3 commercial, which allows for light minor auto repairs like oil changes or brake replacements. But Murrillo’s crew was performing major auto repairs and also selling cars on their lot, which is not allowed in B3 zones.

The store remains open, but Mike Radzik, director of the township’s office of community standards, said a judge could shut it down if the conditions of the restraining order are violated.

Radzik said Murrillo has claimed the incident is isolated but Radzik said evidence suggests that the company has regularly been dumping gasoline into the sewer.

Water samples obtained by the Washtenaw County Water Resource Commission found petroleum throughout the storm basins at the business and a neighboring business.

“We’re absolutely certain this was not accidental or one-time incident,” Radzik said.

Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner Evan Pratt said no clean up is expected at this time and officials are working to determine where the water from the storm sewer flows.

In addition to the other issues, there were numerous code violations on the dilapidated building, though workers were seen making repairs soon after the original incident.

“I think we’ve achieved our goals, which are to get voluntary compliance and keep any more zoning ordinances from being violated,” Radzik said. “They have pulled a permit to make repairs and we are monitoring to make sure they are following the restraining order.”

The gasoline-dumping incident incident was reported to authorities by a resident. Radzik said a patron leaving a neighboring restaurant smelled an overwhelming gasoline odor while in the parking lot and decided to investigate to determine the source.

The patron witnessed several employees dumping what was suspected to be gasoline into a sewer and called 911. A Washtenaw County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched, Radzik said.

Upon arrival, the deputy witnessed an employee dumping the suspected gasoline into the sewer, Radzik said.

“We were very encouraged that a citizen witnessed something that they thought was wrong and made the effort to report it, because that doesn’t always happen,” Radzik said. “It caused a flurry of enforcement activity to ensure the safety of the environment and people working there, so kudos to that person.”

Radzik said officials found the property littered with auto parts and debris; the roof is in need of repair; some kind of chemical appears to be leaking from the building and into the storm sewer; there are several electrical and plumbing hazards; windows and doors are broken; and mold is growing on the ceiling.

Many of those issues have been or are being addressed.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at


Milton Shift

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

It's never the best of experiences when swamp rats come scurrying out of the toilet bowl and nip sensitive regions, infecting the victims with gangrenous plague and boils. Thankfully, this scenario has been averted by our hero's fumigation of the sewers with gasoline. Imagine the cost savings over professional extermination - Snyder should nominate him to chair the MDEQ and mentor all six of its employees.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

Residents of the area owe a debt of gratitude for this inspiring story of one man's heroic fight against the anopheles mosquito. US Army Doctor Maj. Walter Reed gets most of credit -- and an honorary degree from the University of Michigan -- for helping wipe out the scourge of yellow fever by pouring gasoline on mosquito breeding grounds in Cuba and Panama at the turn of the last century. If you blame this business owner for the gasoline in his storm basin, you also should credit him for no yellow fever outbreak in Washtenaw County yet in 2013, and this is the height of the mosquito season. A plaque might be appropriate, once he pays the littering fine.

Milton Shift

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2:51 a.m.

I wonder if pouring gasoline and old motor oil on his organic garden would also only be prosecutable as littering?

Milton Shift

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

The English language has an interesting feature - multiple, context-dependent definitions for words. "Organic" in the context of gardening means a lack of exposure to anything of synthetic or industrial origin, petroleum products included. "Organic" in the context of chemistry means carbon based molecules. I don't think many would argue that chloroform is appropriate for organic gardening, though it may be an organic chemical.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

Gasoline is composed of organic chemicals.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

I agree with the others, $100 fine isn't much of a deterrent and given this county's record of liberal judicial sentences - they aren't getting jail time. No wonder things like this happen.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 6:53 a.m.

But I thought this was a bastion of environmentalism. Treetown. It's all so confusing. :(

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

what no one is addressing here is the wonderfull ethanol gas the government has decreed has ZERO SHELF LIFE(also less mpg)WHAT ARE PEOPLE TO DO WITH IT WHEN IT GOES STALE?ive got sad news people.many people are dumping gasahol.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

I find it interesting that the sign one the building says "Auto-1" while the name of the business in "Auto One", or used to be. It looks like the "One" was replaced with the "1". I wonder why??? Was he a franchise at one time and got booted?


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 4:36 a.m.

It used to be Auto-Lab. Prior to that, it was Varsity Lube. All different owners. I believe Mr. Murrillo has owned the establishment for slightly over two years now.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

"restraining order barring the owner from violating any township zoning ordinances or illegally dumping anything on the property. " So we have restraining orders that say you're no longer allowed to break the law? Aren't we supposed to not violate zoning or illegally dump WITHOUT a restraining order?

D'landio J. Jr

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

Come on mayne you cant just be dumping gasoline


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

Beautifully said sir


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Close this place down. Toss the owner in jail. Increase the fines. $100 is a joke.

D'landio J. Jr

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

RT let him rot in a cell

the artist

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

$100? Really? Pocket change, how about some teeth in this law? Fines are higher for Graffiti.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

What an A$$hole thing to do. I agree, forget the jail time, make him do some massive community service hours. Hope no one tosses a lit match near that sewer..


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

A ticket for littering and a $100.00 fine?? Not much of an incentive to stop polluting. One match and part of Washtenaw Avenue goes up in smoke!

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Where does the owner dispose of gas tanks that he has emptied and replaced? Those are expensive to dispose of. They are frequently illegally dumped. Here's the felony kicker. If he charged customers a proper disposal fee for the gasoline or the tank, there is a chance that he committed felony fraud against his customers. Similarly, if he took a business tax deduction for the cost of proper disposal and then illegally dumped it, that would be a criminal tax fraud offense.

Kai Petainen

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

I find it frustrating that small spills are punished and big ones (like the 1,4 Dioxane), are not.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Gelman paid to have the ground water cleaned up when he sold the business to Pall. In fact, it is still being cleaned up regardless of who owns the business, or even if it continues to operate. Unfortunately, it takes decades to clean up these kinds of spills, and spending more money or levying bigger fines doesn't speed up the process.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 6:50 a.m.

Let's be honest. The environmental laws we have are a big joke. Gelman should have been MADE to clean up the mess he made -- or the state should have done it and billed him.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

"Radzik said officials found the property littered with auto parts and debris; the roof is in need of repair; some kind of chemical appears to be leaking from the building and into the storm sewer; there are several electrical and plumbing hazards; windows and doors are broken; and mold is growing on the ceiling." In addition to dumping gasoline into the sewers, this place is a disaster. Close it down.

Tom Perkins

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

So far everyone seems to think $100 and/or 90 days is too light of a punishment. What do you think is a fair punishment for dumping gasoline and or other chemicals into the sewer?


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

What do YOU think is fair punishment? JRW is correct..."this place is a disaster" and, I would add, the owner should also receive a Blight Violation (Detroit has them, does A2?).

Jay Thomas

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.



Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

First offense: Double the cost of cleaning it up (including a full investigation of possible contamination requiring eventual brownfield cleanup). Second offense: Quadruple the cost plus 1 day of jail per $10k of cleanup cost.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

"A Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge also has issued a permanent restraining order barring the owner from violating any township zoning ordinances or illegally dumping anything on the property." What? You issued a restraining order...against doing things that are already illegal? Again...what?


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

If the allegations are true, the guy has some serious holes in his conscience. I don't trust him. We can't babysit him every minute. What else is he going to do next? I don't want him on the lose hurting our community. Realistically, how can he be stopped?


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

Close him down.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Prediction: When this place closes down, the soil will be terribly contaminated. The owner will have left the area. Taxpayers will be stuck with the soil clean up bill. So how does the county get pro-active about that, in order to save us millions? They really need to check his oil disposal records. I'd be shocked if some of that isn't being dumped in the sewer or in the dirt.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Taxpayers will be stuck with vacant land. No one will want to clean it up. Why do you think there are so many abandoned gas stations?

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

"some kind of chemical appears to be leaking from the building and into the storm sewer" That is probably in indoor storage tank of some kind. Did they not test the leaking substance? Get the EPA involved.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Surely there is something else they could charge him with (there is) that would result in a stiffer monetary penalties. It seems very unlikely the owner will get jail, though he should. The fine must greatly exceed the cost of proper disposal for it to be a true deterrent. From the account, he likely saved thousands of dollars. It is also possible he has caused significant groundwater contamination. I think I can already hear the wrist being slapped. Get the EPA involved.

Sean Thomas

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

The place was always a dump, but this makes me sad. I liked the guys that worked there. I always got my oil changed there when I lived in Ypsi!


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

If they dumped gasoline down the sewer I can just imagine all the other fluids he dumped, $100 fine and possible jail time, he'll end up doing community service and the $100 fine he'll just add that to his next lucky customer. They need to shut the business down for a few months and have the IRS give him an audit.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

Sounds like the people in that area should find a new place to get their cars serviced until this guy can prove he's cleaned up his act. The loss of business will speak MUCH lounder than a $100 fine.

Milton Shift

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Maybe they were simply trying to achieve ecological harmony by restoring natural oils to their native environment. Or perhaps it was performance art. They should be subsidized by the EPA.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

Liquid graffiti.

Milton Shift

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

90 days and a $100 fine? That's a minor misdemeanor to end all minor misdemeanors - that's literally the same penalty you'd face if you strolled through his yard without his permission. The penalty shouldn't be any hard number of dollars, it should be whatever the cost is of removing gasoline from water, which is surely much, much more.

Jim Osborn

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

What is surprising is that the Washtenaw County Sheriff's deputy was dispatched. Far too often they can say, this is something for "code enforcement" but that officer can be at the other end of the county and miss the crime. I had this response when I witnessed someone dumping trash from a truck into the woods. I'm glad that the dispatcher made the right call and dispatched regular deputies to witness the crime and make the arrest. What were they doing, replacing gas tanks or fuel pumps? I'm glad they were caught, especially since there easy legal methods to dispose of such waste. (Its strange how AnnArbor dot com's own spell-check tries to change "Washtenaw" to "Washerwomen"


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

48104, a cigarette will not ignite gasoline vapors. If the cigarette ignited, say paper or cardboard, the flame might ignite it though, but not a cigarette.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

There's no spell check on the website. Any spelling corrections are coming from your web browser interface.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Gasoline in a high traffic area can be a fire hazard. One person drops a lit cigarette there after stepping outside the restaurant for a smoke and you can have a real situation. The trash in the woods isn't as immediate a problem, I guess.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

I agree the $100 fine is way too low if found guilty - but 90 days in jail is way too harsh. Cleaning up the business facilities and getting in line with code should be the focus. Let's not rush to shut them down so we have another vacant abandoned building in that area and loss of jobs for people that work there.

social conscience

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

$100!!! It is more cost effective to dump in the sewer than to properly dispose. (Think: Flammable storage, employee time, waste charge, transport, etc.) Perhaps its time to make the punishment more unbearable than the crime?

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

$100? There are higher fines for less serious infractions. Fine him the cost of cleaning up the water that the gasoline contaminates down the line.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

My thoughts exactly!


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

"The patron witnessed several employees dumping was suspected to be gasoline" what was suspected...

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

I think A2 was correcting grammar, which is something we all need to do, because the mistakes on are so numerous that if only one commenter did it, it would become a full-time job.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

You know, the whole "allegedly" thing, because one never knows- it could have been grape Kool Aid that smelled like gasoline. There are just SO many possibilities.........