Sebring waste violation nets man $1M fine

YOUNGSTOWN — Richard J. Sickelsmith, 63, state Route 7, New Waterford, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution after pleading guilty to a solid and hazardous waste charge involving the closed Sebring Industrial Plating facility.

Judge Anthony D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sentenced him on Wednesday after Sickelsmith entered a guilty plea to one felony offense March 25.

Sickelsmith was ordered to start paying the restitution at no less than $400 per month during the five years of his probation, said Martin Hume, county assistant prosecutor. Of the $1 million, $446,000 is owed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the remaining $654,000 is owed to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Those two agencies are owed because they took care of the cleanup of hazardous wastes that were being stored on the property at 546 W. Tennessee Ave. in Sebring, Hume said.

Prosecutors recommended that Sickelsmith get two years of prison time, but D’Apolito did not order any prison time. Sickelsmith does not have a substantial criminal record, Hume said.

In March 2021, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency inspected the facility, which was not in operation. The inspection found at least 38,000 pounds of hazardous wastes were being stored in various areas of the property.

The company did not have a permit to store them, an EPA document stated. The company stored the wastes “for multiple years, some as early as 2016,” according to an April 28 EPA notice of violation.

Two others also were indicted in the case — Samual L. Hopper Jr., 25, 13th Street, Sebring, and Brian A. Hopper Jr., 23, 13th Street, Sebring, each of whom are indicted on two felony counts regarding solid and hazardous wastes. Their cases are pending. Both are set for a pretrial hearing at 9:30 a.m. May 26.

If the Hoppers are convicted in the case, they also will be ordered to pay restitution for the cleanup, Hume said.

Sickelsmith owned the property and business at one time and later sold it to the Hoppers, who are brothers, Hume said. The EPA was investigating complaints regarding the business at the time Sickelsmith sold it to the Hoppers, and the violations found by the EPA were mentioned in the purchase agreement, Hume said.


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