PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) -- The co-owner of a gold mine in the Sierra foothills has pleaded not guilty to operating the mine illegally and causing environmental damage.
El Dorado County prosecutors said Joseph Hardesty entered the plea during his arraignment Tuesday.
Hardesty, who is 55, is charged with grading the Gold Rush-era mine near Placerville, which is about 45 miles east of Sacramento. He also is charged with operating heavy equipment without permits, causing air pollution and allowing hazardous fluids to reach a nearby creek.
His attorney, William Brewer, did not immediately return a telephone message.
The mine's co-owner, Rick Churches, 44, faces similar charges in a 24-count complaint. He did not show up for Tuesday's arraignment.
Deputy District Attorney Mike Pizzuti said the judge told prosecutors to prepare an arrest warrant for Churches.
The Associated Press