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Lupo worker gets probation for dumping brine

Published: Fri, March 21, 2014 @ 12:08 a.m.

Change-of-plea hearing set for boss accused of ordering illegal activity



By Peter H. Milliken



The man who pleaded guilty to dumping oil-field waste into a Mahoning River tributary late in 2012 and early in 2013 has been sentenced to three years’ probation and 300 hours of community service.

U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent in Cleveland imposed the sentence Thursday on Michael P. Guesman, 34, of Cortland, but did not impose on him any fine or restitution.

Guesman pleaded guilty Aug. 29, 2013, to one count of violating the federal Clean Water Act by dumping brine and drilling mud down a storm drain.

Guesman’s boss, Ben Lupo, 62, of Poland, and Lupo’s company, Hardrock Excavating LLC, earlier pleaded not guilty to the same charge, but Lupo is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The available sentencing range for the charge is probation to three years in prison, followed by a year of supervised release, and a fine up to $250,000.

In his plea agreement, Guesman says he dumped the waste from 20,000- gallon storage tanks on Salt Springs Road in Youngstown at Lupo’s direction on 24 nights beginning Dec. 12, 2012.

The U.S. attorney agreed to recommend favorable consideration for Guesman at his sentencing in exchange for his acceptance of responsibility and “substantial assistance” to the prosecution.

The investigation of the case was triggered by a Jan. 31, 2013, discharge that resulted in a massive cleanup that used specialized contractors and cost more than $1 million.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has revoked Hardrock’s brine-hauling certificate.

It also revoked all injection-well permits for another of Lupo’s companies, D&L Energy Inc.

Last fall, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kay Woods approved the sale of “substantially all” of D&L’s assets for $20.7 million to Resource Land Holdings LLC of Denver, which was the highest bidder in an auction.

The case was prosecuted by Brad J. Beeson, a Cleveland-based assistant U.S. attorney.

Guesman was represented by Carolyn M. Kucharski, a Cleveland-based assistant federal public defender.

Lupo is represented by Attys. Joseph W. Gardner of Canfield and Roger M. Synenberg of Cleveland.


1glbtactivist(248 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

What a sham. This man puts poison into the drinking water of thousands of people. Almost certainly causing the death by cancer of dozens. He gets nothing. This is a perfect example of why the business run Ohio government must be replaced with something that protects the people.

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2bgreene(142 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

This POS knowingly puts poisons into the water, knowingly violates the law, knowingly jeopardizes the health and well-being of thousands because he was afraid that he would lose his job if he did not follow the instructions of his boss.
"I was only following orders" was his excuse....just like a lot of people have said after committing atrocities against their fellow man. He was then given a light sentence because he agreed to assist the government in the prosecution of the owner/boss. Next thing he will be hired by the city as a model for convicted felons who have shown remorse and should be given a second chance.
Next week the owner/boss goes to court. I have heard that the cost to the taxpayers for cleanup is around 3 million dollars. I hope that the prosecution can find a way to collect this, find someone guilty, and have some prison time assessed for the crime.

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3JoeFromHubbard(1036 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Sometimes I wonder why I'm alive after reading frightened responses like the above posts.

Are any of you old enough to remember when the steel mills were full production around Youngstown? What they dumped into the Mahoning was several orders of magnitude above this Lupo's little dribble.

We all thrived and survived then. Get over it.

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4INTHEKNOW55(13 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago



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5dontbeafool(901 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I think that the sentence could have been a little steeper, but we all know that Lupo is the one that they will bring the hammer down on, and hard.
@Joe, being that the steel mills did this in the 70's, and knowing what it did to the Mahoning river, it should make this a more despicable act, not a more tolerated "get over it people" mentality. Do you know the efforts and costs that have been associated trying to restore the Mahoning from the steel mills? Then idiots do this without thinking twice. But certain people don't want any environmental regulations slowing down business and cutting into profits.

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6TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Absolutely appropriate sentence for a guy with no prior record. Further how do you base punishment on a crime where the negative effects cannot be assessed and the science is unsure of. Can't be punished for "what we think might possibly happen some day if all circumstances are right". I love the above whacko who is certain (and hoping) that masses of folks will die from cancer. Absolutely nothing scientific to support that statement. problem is-if it would further the environmentalist cause they would be grateful for those deaths. Nut balls man.

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7walter_sobchak(1905 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

You are correct. There are far worse contaminants in the Mahoning than the oil field wastes that D&L dumped in the sewer. But, the hypocrisy of our government is amazing. They will fine the owner and company that do this but they won't use their resources to clean the river of the KNOWN carcinogens; those that force the EPA to issue alerts that you should not touch the water let alone ingest it. The sentence for this underling seems appropriate. Lupo will be going to prison. And, to correct a previous poster; while the Mahoning is no longer used as a source of drinking water, it does empty into Beaver Creek, which is used.

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82muchtax(319 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

This guy got off with a slap on the wrist! Now let's hope they hang the real scumbag Lupo!

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9DACOUNTRYBOY(224 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

The Goos Man now has friends in government. Is the Mahoning river water drinkable yet? Doesn't the city of Warren dump sewer water into the Mahoning as a taste enhancer?

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10JoeFromHubbard(1036 comments)posted 5 months, 4 weeks ago

@ dontbeafool:

>> Do you know the efforts and costs that have been associated trying to restore the Mahoning <<

There is a lot of talk about "cleaning up" the river but so far little if any action has occurred. Removing remnants of old dams and dredging the river has been discussed. All very costly procedures.

The question is, how clean do you want it?
You and I were not living before the river was put to industrial use. We can only imagine how we would like it to be.

That imagination will probably exceed reality resulting in a very expensive proposition with little overall gain.

In today's world, everyone wants something yesterday, they can't wait. The truth is that given sufficient time, nature will clean most all of the river.

Change is already evident since the demise of the mills and sewage treatment has been implemented. Be patient.

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1176Ytown(1239 comments)posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago

If Lupo is sentenced for the maximum "The available sentencing range for the charge is probation to three years in prison, followed by a year of supervised release, and a fine up to $250,000." Just a slap on the wrist.

INTHEKNOW55: You are very naive if you think that the Mahoning River does not affect drinking water.

The Mahoning River joins the Shenango River in Pennsylvania to form the Beaver River, which flows into the Ohio River. The Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico and mixes with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Ohio River is the source of drinking water for more than three million people.
Over 25 million people, almost 10% of the US population, live in the Ohio River Basin.

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12dontbeafool(901 comments)posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago

@joe, I do not understand your thought process. First you say, it isn't any big deal to dump into the river, get over it. Then you say this.

"In today's world, everyone wants something yesterday, they can't wait. The truth is that given sufficient time, nature will clean most all of the river.

Change is already evident since the demise of the mills and sewage treatment has been implemented. Be patient."

My stance is that we have been waiting patiently for almost 40 years for nature to clean the river and then some jackarse wants to take a shortcut and intentionally dump waste directly into the river.
So it is no big deal? It is like waiting for a fruit tree to grow 10 years, and then right before it produces it's first fruit, your idiot neighbor comes over and takes a chainsaw to it. So I guess Lupo should just be fined, and we can start the patient waiting game all over again. Or we can just turn our heads completely, let people use it as a dumping ground, and say it's no big deal.

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13JoeFromHubbard(1036 comments)posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago

@ dontbeafool:

I understand your well presented point. It cites an elaborated situation for effect.

By today's standards what Lupo & Company did was technically wrong.

In reality, what happened won't make a hill of beans difference in the river status. It's greatest effect was in the minds of the people.

Don't worry, there is such a concentrated observation of industrial activity, with regard to environmental impact, that no one will get away with much today.

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14HSG(123 comments)posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Terra pint:

Why this, why that, why anything?

Let anyone do anything at any time?

Your convoluted 'reasoning' could be applied to any situation which does not 'cause' I'll effect.

As a point of fact, the gent who dumped was breaking a law.

If this is true, he is entitled to due process, which he received.

His consequence, or sentence, is probably appropriate.


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