Oilfield waste dumping plea scheduled

Oilfield waste dumping plea scheduled

Oilfield waste dumping plea scheduled


The man accused of dumping oil-field waste into a Mahoning River tributary at the direction of his boss is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing in federal court at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 29.

Michael P. Guesman, 34, of Cortland, pleaded innocent in March to violating the Clean Water Act.

His boss, Ben Lupo, 62, of Poland, and Lupo’s company, Hardrock Excavating LLC, which was in the oil and gas drilling industry waste storage, treatment and disposal business, also pleaded innocent to the same charge.

A federal grand jury indicted Lupo, Hardrock and Guesman in February after a criminal investigation by state and federal regulators found Lupo had directed Guesman to dump a mixture of brine and oil-based drilling mud down a storm drain after dark.

The indictment said the deliberate illegal discharges occurred “on numerous occasions” between Nov. 1, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2013.

The investigation was triggered by a Jan. 31 discharge that resulted in a massive cleanup that used specialized contractors and cost more than $1 million.

Guesman was ordered to discharge wastewater into the storm drain from the company’s Salt Springs Road location at least 20 times, according to a witness statement summarized in an affidavit in support of the indictment.

Guesman will appear before U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent for the change-of-plea hearing.

Lupo and Hardrock are scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. Sept. 16 pretrial conference before Judge Nugent.

Michael Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment on whether Guesman has signed a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney; whether Guesman is expected to plead guilty as charged, or to a lesser offense; what the U.S. attorney’s sentencing recommendation would be if he pleads guilty; and whether Guesman will have to testify against his co-defendants, upon the U.S. attorney’s request, under any plea deal.

Read more in Saturday’s Vindicator.

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