Deceased Navy Veteran’s Name Cleared in ‘Clean Water’ Case


After being convicted, fined, and imprisoned under the Clean Water Act for digging ponds to protect his Montana home from forest fires, Joe Robertson had his name cleared last week.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Robertson’s conviction in a legal victory that comes posthumously, since the Navy veteran died four months ago at age 80.

Robertson was 78 when the federal prosecution led to his prison sentence in 2016; he completed his 18 months behind bars in late 2017. At the time of his death March 18, he was supposed to be on parole for another 20 months.

Robertson also had been ordered to pay $130,000 in restitution through deductions from his Social Security checks.

The 9th Circuit initially upheld a lower court ruling against Robertson in November 2017 and denied him a rehearing in July 2018. But last November, he petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case.

On April 15, the high court responded by vacating the 9th Circuit ruling and sending the case back to that appeals court for further review.

Robertson’s widow, Carrie, had stepped in to carry on his legal battle. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit, public interest law firm …read more