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Developer re-indicted on federal charges related to clearing wetlands

A federal grand jury reindicted William L. Huntress on Friday, with prosecutors once again pressing their claim the developer, among other actions, illegally filled in wetlands and removed trees in Amherst.

Huntress, 57, was indicted on five counts, including obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The new indictment centers on Huntress, who has a reputation for butting heads with residents and public officials, and his development of a 97-acre parcel of land at 10880 Transit Road in Amherst.

Prosecutors claim Huntress illegally cleared the site in 2008.

The indictment of Huntress and his companies – Acquest Development LLC and Acquest Transit LLC – includes allegations of criminal contempt, making false statements and concealing facts.

Prosecutors maintain Huntress knew the Transit Road land was a wetland when he bought it in 2006 and proceeded to clear it for development.

The new indictment comes months after the government’s initial case against Huntress fell apart in March, when a federal judge dismissed a seven-count criminal indictment against him and his two companies because of prosecutorial interference with the grand jury that indicted them in 2011.

After the case was dismissed in U.S. District Court, the government had six months in which to gain a new indictment, and that happened Friday.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. and acting Assistant Attorney Robert G. Dreher, of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.

Neither Huntress nor his attorney, Paul J. Cambria Jr., could be reached to comment Friday.

In March, Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny dismissed the 2011 indictment against Huntress after finding statements by the prosecution might have improperly influenced the grand jury’s decision to indict him.

Huntress countered with his own lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and what the developer’s attorney called its “overzealous” handling of the case.

In June, Huntress won a $3 million jury verdict against the Town of Amherst after a four-week trial in state court. Huntress sued the Town Board after it voted in 2006 to rescind a previous approval for an office park at 2190 Wehrle Drive.