CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Federal prosecutors are seeking a three-year sentence and a $250,000 fine for the owner of a northeast Ohio oil and gas drilling company accused of dumping large amounts of toxic brine down a storm sewer and into a creek that feeds the Mahoning River.
Ben Lupo, 64, of Poland, pleaded guilty in March to one count of unpermitted discharge into U.S. waters. His sentencing is Tuesday.
Prosecutors wrote in a motion that Lupo had employees dump drilling fluids down a storm sewer 33 times between October 2012 and January 2013. The fluids contained chemicals such as benzene, toluene, barium and chlorides.
Lupo’s attorneys argue their client made poor choices because of his numerous health problems and that he should receive probation or home detention instead of prison.
Trumbull County Bureau chief Jeff Levkulich will be in Cleveland Tuesday for the sentencing.
Among the witnesses scheduled to testify for the prosecution are Kurt Kollar, an on-scene coordinator for the Ohio EPA who assisted with the cleanup. Witnesses scheduled to testify for the defense are Dr. Thomas Detesco of Boardman and Stephen Embso-Mattingly, a forensic chemist.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.