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Four Ciba-Geigy Officials Plead Innocent During Arraignment

November 8, 1985 GMT

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) _ Four Ciba-Geigy Corp. officials pleaded innocent today to charges they illegally dumped toxic wastes from their plant here into a landfill and the Atlantic Ocean.

The four, who are free on bail, were arraigned before Superior Court Judge William H. Huber. Huber scheduled pre-trial arguments for Dec. 9.

Pleas of innocent to charges of conspiracy, tampering with public records, unlawful discharge of pollutants, theft by deception and other charges associated with dumping were entered by William Dobsein, 55, environmental technology manager; James McPherson, 53, solid waste processing supervisor; and David Ellis, 44, aasistant manager of environmental technology.

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Ciba-Geigy facilities manager Robert Fesen, 62, pleaded innocent to a charge of illegal disposal of hazardous waste and unlawful discharge of pollutants.

The conspiracy charge alone could carry a penalty of up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $100,000.

A 35-count indictment Oct. 25 charged the officials and Ciba-Geigy with dumping the wastes into three Toms River landfills and into the Atlantic through a wastewater treatment system, and with lying about their actions.

The indictment alleged that the company illegally dumped more than 55,000 drums of hazardous and toxic wastes, and that company officials conspired to defraud and deceive government agencies by concealing the nature of the chemical waste in order to obtain and keep disposal permits.

If convicted of all counts, the company could face up to $2.3 million in fines, officials said.

Richard Barth, Ciba-Geigy senior vice president and general counsel, has called the criminal charges ″unwarranted,″ and said the company is committed to protecting the environment and complying with all environmental laws and regulations.

Ciba-Geigy, a manufacturer of dyes, plastics and resins, employs 1,000 people on a 1,300-acre research and manufacturing complex here.

The plant, 10 miles from the Atlantic, is the largest dye-maker in the country.