Junkyard Owner Now Faces Animal Cruelty Charges

This is Rhonda Powell's third trek through Charles Mason's junkyard. As Jackson County's Solid Waste Coordinator, she was the first environmental official called out after authorities found thousands of vehicles, car batteries and other potentially hazardous materials.

"Batteries were the primary thing we saw. A lot of the batteries were broken and the fluids had been leaking out," Powell said. "The battery acid and lead in the batteries, they pose a hazard to the environment."

A team from the state DEQ quietly took notes and photos. The environmentalists aren't interested in how or why Mason amassed his collection of car parts, only if damage has been done to the swampland around Black Creek that might warrant criminal charges.

When the sheriff's department raided the junkyard last week, they seized ten animals. And there are signs that at one time, there were many more.

"When those horses are brought there and left to rot, you know, environmentally that's not good for the waste to go into the water system," Bill Richmond with the Jackson County Animal Shelter said.

It also appears that someone set piles of trash on fire. Rhonda Powell says that violates the federal Clean Air Act.

"It's an air violation. You got plastics in there and other containers that violate the air act," Powell said.

The junkyard owner has not been charged with any state or federal environmental violations. As for the animal neglect charges, late Monday afternoon, Charles Mason turned himself into authorities. He then posted a $500 bond on each of the misdemeanor charges.