- Associated Press - Saturday, July 12, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A Rio Arriba company accused of illegally mining pumice from the Santa Fe National Forest has paid the federal government $2.25 million as part of a settlement.

Federal prosecutors announced the settlement with Copar Pumice Co. Inc. this week. They say the agreement requires the company to relinquish all rights to its mining claims within the Jemez National Recreation Area.

The U.S. Justice Department in 2009 filed a civil lawsuit against Copar and owners Richard Cook, Shirley Cook, Debbie Cantrup and Kelly Armstrong.

Prosecutors say Copar was authorized to remove larger-sized pumice, solely for its value and use in the stonewash laundry industry. They accused the company of crushing pumice and removing undersized pumice from the El Cajete Mine and selling it for uses outside the laundry industry.

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