Mon 12:30 pm: Lupo pleads guilty

The former owner of a Youngstown oil and gas company pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act by discharging brine into a tributary of the Mahoning River.

Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said Benedict W. Lupo, 63, of Poland, is scheduled for sentencing June 16.

The illegal dumping took place between Nov. 1, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2013, according to court documents.

“We are pleased the defendant admitted to his actions, which caused great harm to the Mahoning River,” Dettelbach said.

According to the indictment and related court documents, Hardrock Excavating LLC was owned by Lupo and located at 2761 Salt Springs Road in Youngstown. The company provided services to the oil and gas industry in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including the storage of brine and oil-based drilling mud used in hydrofracturing. Lupo directed an employee to empty some of the waste liquid stored at the facility into a nearby wastewater drain.

That employee, Michael Guesman, 35, of Cortland, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced last week to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service. The criminal case against Hardrock Excavating LLC remains pending and the case remains under investigation.

The statutory maximum for violating the Clean Water Act is for individuals is three years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $50,000 per day of violation or $250,000, whichever is larger.