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CONCORD, CA-A Concord construction company has been ordered to pay an unprecedented $1 million for violating the federal Endangered Species Act, after its owner admitted that he drained two ponds where the California red-legged frog, a threatened species, had set up active breeding grounds.

The sentence, which also calls for probation and a public apology, is the result of a plea bargain between federal prosecutors and West Coast Homebuilders owner Albert Seeno Jr., who pleaded guilty in federal court in Oakland Wednesday to two misdemeanor counts of violating the species conservation law.

The violation occurred at the San Marco project, a $1 billion suburban housing project in Bay Point, south of state Highway 4. Seeno admitted that during the construction of the residential project last spring he was aware that the federally protected frogs were thriving in the ponds and ordered them filled anyway.

In the apology, which will be published when prosecutors agree on the font size, Seeno takes full responsibility for the decision to drain the ponds, writing that it was “wrong and caused the destruction of these valuable frogs and their habitat.”It is my hope that this substantial penalty along with my apology will send a strong message deterring others who may be tempted to engage in this same conduct.”

The $1 million penalty consists of a $300,000 fine; a $300,000 civil penalty payable to Contra Costa County; and $300,000 in restitution, which will go to the Save Mount Diablo Foundation, a nonprofit group that purchases land to protect endangered species in Contra Costa County.

Also included are $75,000 in restitution to the California Department of Fish and Game Preservation Fund and $25,000 to the Alameda County Hazardous Materials Program.

The monetary sanction is believed to be an unprecedented penalty for a violation of the species conservation law, but for some, the real victory is found in another portion of the sentence. Under the terms of the deal, Seeno is forced to turn his personal ranch, a square-mile piece of land located in the unincorporated area of Contra Costa County known as the Morgan Territory, into a permanent conservation area.

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