More dumping charges

YOUNGSTOWN – A second Hardrock Excavating employee admitted to investigators that he dumped oil and gas drilling waste down a storm drain at least nine times under orders from his then-boss, Benedict Lupo.

Mark A. Goff, 46, of Newton Falls, is charged in a bill of information unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court. He faces one charge of making an unpermitted discharge in violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Goff is the third defendant to be named in brine-dumping incidents at Lupo’s 2761 Salt Springs Road facility discovered in January 2013 by state environmental investigators following up on a tip.

Investigators have said Lupo on many occasions ordered employees to dump chemical-laced liquid waste and oil field mud down the drain, located less than a mile from the Mahoning River.

Cleanup of the area following the discovery surpassed more than $3 million and lasted for months, Ohio EPA officials have said.

Federal court records indicate that Goff first appeared for a brief hearing nearly a year ago in U.S. District Court in Youngstown with his attorney, Neal G. Atway of Youngstown. The minutes and transcript from that April 15 hearing were sealed while the case against Goff’s boss and his co-worker, Michael Guesman, continued. Both Lupo and Guesman have now pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Guesman, 34, of Cortland, was sentenced last week to community service. Lupo is set for sentencing June 16.

According to the court document unsealed Thursday, Goff dumped liquid portions of brine and oilfield waste about nine times in October and November 2012. Under Lupo’s orders, Goff said he used a hose to drain the waste into the storm drain after everyone else had left the facility for the day and after dark.

A message left at the telephone number listed for Goff to seek comment was not immediately returned.

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

Bills of information typically are filed when a defendant is cooperating with authorities and intends to plead guilty; however, court documents in this case mention no specific intentions, and no court date is scheduled for Goff.

The same criminal charge filed against Lupo’s company, Hardrock Excavating, still is pending. Hardrock had provided storage, treatment and disposal of oil and gas industry waste generated in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“Those who make it their business to harvest from under Ohio its great natural resources have a responsibility to the men, women and children who drink its water, live on its land and breathe its air. And they have a duty to follow the law,” said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach. “This defendant broke the law and must be held accountable.”