Trial of former Sebring water operator now Sept. 17

Staff report


The water-quality criminal case filed by the Ohio Attorney Generals Office against former Sebring Water Department operator James V. Bates has been reset to 9 a.m. Sept. 17 in the Mahoning County Area Court in Sebring.

The trial had to be rescheduled in May because the visiting judge, Patricia Cosgrove, and defense attorney John Juhasz were completing the trial of former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante when the Bates trial date in May arrived.

Bates, 62, of Carey Road in Salem, is charged with three counts of violating state laws requiring water system operators to timely notify their customers when routine testing indicates there is an excessive amount of lead in the drinking water. The charges are from 2015.

If convicted, Bates could get up to four years in prison on each count.

News of the failure to notify the Sebring water customers of the lead problem touched off an intense response in January 2016, with bottled water being brought to the village so people would not drink the tap water, schools being closed and children being tested for lead in their blood.

Sebring’s water crisis followed the Flint, Mich., crisis, which became national news in October 2015.

A final pretrial hearing – to be handled by telephone only – will be at noon Aug. 14, according to the online case docket.

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