The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 30, 2013

Cortland man admits to illegally dumping drilling waste in sewer

CLEVELAND — One of the men at the center of an investigation into the illegal dumping of drilling wastewater in northeast Ohio pleaded guilty Thursday, days after his former employer lost a fight to keep its state operating permits.

The worker, Michael P. Guesman, admitted to illegally dumping brine and oil-based drilling mud into a sewer that empties into the Mahoning River watershed, the U.S. attorney in Cleveland, Steven Dettelbach, said.

Guesman, 34, of Cortland, changed his earlier plea of not guilty to a charge in a federal indictment against him, a northeast Ohio business and its owner.

Authorities allege the owner of Hardrock Excavating LLC, Ben Lupo, directed Guesman to discharge thousands of gallons of drilling mud and brine into a sewer that empties into the Mahoning River watershed from December to January, a violation of the Clean Water Act. Such drilling wastewater is supposed to be placed in an underground well piped deep into the earth.   

Guesman’s attorney did not return a request for comment Thursday. He was scheduled to be sentenced in November.

Lupo has pleaded not guilty to the Clean Water Act violation.

Charges brought against Guesman and the 62-year-old Lupo, of Poland near Youngstown, carry penalties of up to three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a year of supervised release.

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