Criminal Cases Against Fremont Dam Vandals End

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The inflatable dam on Alameda Creek the day after it was vandalized. (Alameda County Water District)

The four men charged with vandalizing a large dam in Fremont last year, an act that led to the loss of nearly 50 million gallons of water, have all agreed to plea deals.

Drake Elkhouri, the man prosecutors say stabbed the inflatable dam on Alameda Creek on May 21, pleaded guilty to felony vandalism last month and has been sentenced to one year in county jail.

Dylan Jeffery, Gavin Palmon and Zackory Morton all pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing. They ended up each serving around 40 days in jail, according to Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

Elkhouri, the main defendant, could end up having to pay for the damage related to the vandalism, including the cost of the loss of water, Drenick said in an email. A restitution hearing on  how much he would have to pay is set for early March.

Elkhouri's lawyer has not returned calls for comment.

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In late November, authorities revealed that the vandalism took place after the four men had been drinking and smoking marijuana.

The case prompted an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because the vandalism could have been a violation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

That federal case is now closed. The EPA's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) met with the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco after the men were arrested and decided not to pursue separate charges.

The local charges were "appropriate and consistent with the facts of this case," said Michele Huitric, an EPA spokeswoman, in an email Thursday. "Rather than attempting to pursue federal criminal charges related to tampering under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA-CID is closing its file on the matter."

The Alameda County Water District replaced the dam and upgraded security around it but the agency's general manager, Robert Shaver, said there's only so much that can be done to keep pieces of the region's water infrastructure completely secure.

"We have over 900 miles of pipeline just serving Fremont, Union City and Newark. We have numerous tanks and reservoirs," Shaver said in an interview this week. "There's no way that any water utility could guarantee that something like this can't happen to any one of its facilities."