Texan avoids prison for North Dakota well crime

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Men from Texas and Montana who were convicted of illegally operating a saltwater disposal well in North Dakota have avoided prison time.

Federal Judge Daniel Hovland this week ordered 44-year-old Jason Halek of Southlake, Texas, to serve up to one year in a halfway house with work-release privileges, pay a $50,000 fine and serve three years of supervised release.

The judge sentenced 48-year-old Nathan Garber, of Kalispell, Montana, to three years of supervised release.

The Bismarck Tribune reported that both men had earlier pleaded guilty. The charges against Halek were connected to a state case against Halek Operating, which was fined a state-record $1.5 million in 2013.

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The state also is requesting restitution estimated at $115,000 to plug and reclaim the well. The matter will be decided later.