Alameda County developer James Tong and his Wildlife Management firm will pay $1 million as part of a guilty plea to criminal violation of the Endangered Species Act in connection with his Dublin, Calif. area development plans.
Tong, 70, of Pleasanton, has also pleaded no contest to a forgery charge in state court.
He agreed on January 8 to $700,000 in federal and state fines and set aside $330,000 to manage a 107-acre parcel in Contra Costa known as Brown Ranch. The ranch provides habitat for endangered species.
Tong, as president of Wildlife Management, was required to mitigate for the loss of threatened or endangered species of habitats when a development project interferes. Someone acting on behalf of Wildlife Management forged a $3.2 million mitigation receipt from the Ohlone Preserve Conservation Bank, intending to deceive the city of Dublin into believing the company had purchases the required mitigation credits, according to prosecutors.
Tong admitted he directed grading activities at Dublin Ranch North without the city’s required mitigation measures. The grading caused sediment to run off into a pond on an adjoining property, which provided habitat for the California Tiger Salamander, prosecutors say.
To resolve both the state and federal actions, Wildlife Management agreed to pay $175,000 in restitution for the federal case. And Tong agreed to pay $350,000 to Alameda County Fish and Game Commission, $175,000 to the Contra Costa County Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund and $300,000 to the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
The court must still approve the plea. If accepted, Tong will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar March 11 in Oakland.
Case: U.S. v. Tong, No. 15-cr-512