An employee of a Youngstown company accused of dumping tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River pleaded guilty this morning. For Ohio Public Radio, WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports he’s also agreed to testify against his boss.
Michael Guesman has now formally admitted that, from early December through late January, he opened the valves on storage tanks and dumped oil-based drilling mud and brine into a Youngstown storm sewer.
Guesman has pleaded guilty to a single count of violating the Clean Water Act. But special assistant U.S. attorney Brad Beeson notes that he admitted it happened two dozen times.
“I think it was important for people to understand that this wasn’t a one time or two-time kind of thing. It was multiple and repetitive times.”
And Beeson says there’s more to the pattern, including the role of Guesman’s boss, Benjamin Lupo.
“The 24 occasions were all at night and all at the direction of Mr. Lupo and also after everyone else had left the facility.”
Guesman has promised to cooperate in the criminal case against Lupo and the company, Hardrock Excavating. Lupo has pleaded not guilty to the same charge in the case. Unless Guesman has a criminal record, he’s expected to be sentenced to home detention in November.
The cleanup of the river cost an estimated $1 million.