AP NEWS

Environmental Crimes Task Force is cracking down on illegal dumps

September 23, 2018

Environmental Crimes Task Force is cracking down on illegal dumps

CLEVELAND, Ohio – In the four years the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Environmental Crimes Task Force has been active it has successfully investigated and prosecuted several significant cases:

In 2015, the task force and county prosecutors obtained a seven-count criminal indictment against Barton Carmichael of Richfield and his company, Wastetran Ltd., for illegally dumping solid and hazardous waste on property at 7415 Bessemer Ave., near Kinsman Road in Cleveland. The charges were later dismissed against Carmichael, but Wastetran was convicted and sentenced to clean up the polluted dump.

Earlier this year, the Ohio Attorney General’s office sued Carmichael and Wastetran, accusing the owner of operating a solid waste disposal facility for construction debris without a license, and for failing to comply with an order to clean up the site. State lawyers have asked a judge to impose a $10,000-per-day fine for each day the company fails to comply. On Aug. 28, Judge Joseph Russo found Carmichael in contempt of court, and ordered him to spend 30 days in the county jail, where he remains.

In 2015, the task force executed a search warrant at Waste King, 1610 Eddy Road, East Cleveland, based on allegations that the owners had collected at least 40,000 tons of solid waste, including mattresses and construction debris, that they were burying and piling into a sewer that flowed directly into the Dugway Brook and eventually into Lake Erie. Sgt. Andy Ezzo, head of the task force, said the facility was operating without a proper permit in violation of state health codes and Ohio EPA regulations, with the danger of rats, insects and diseases. The Ohio EPA issued a notice of violation to the owner, Tim Jenkins, who had the site cleaned up under the supervision of the EPA.

In 2013, the task force investigated garbage hauler Christopher Gattarello for state dumping charges at the National Acme building in Collinwood,where he had amassed thousands of tons of paper, cardboard and municipal garbage without a license. Gattarello later hired a local demolition company to tear down the building despite an order from the city to first pay $1.5 million to remove asbestos. Gattarello later pleaded guilty to state and federal environmental charges, for which he was sentenced to serve 4-1/2 years in a federal prison.

Mark Malbin, a garbage hauler from Cuyahoga Falls who owns commercial dumps in Cleveland’s Union-Miles neighborhood, Warrensville Heights and Richfield, was convicted in 2012 in Summit County Common Pleas Court of illegal dumping. A judge sentenced him to 40 days in jail, to pay $23,000 in fines and restitution, and to clean up the three dumps where solid waste and construction demolition debris had been illegally buried. In 2016, Malbin pleaded guilty to violating the terms of his sentence, and a judge sentenced him to pay restitution and court costs of $26,000, and to clean the dumps as ordered. Ezzo said he is continuing to work with the Ohio EPA to compel Malbin to clean up the Cleveland dump site on Meech Avenue, which to date he has failed to do.

Ezzo said he’s in a quandary.

“He can be arrested, but does that get the site cleaned up?” Ezzo asked. “He can be forced to pay, but he will file bankruptcy. It would be up to a judge to imprison him.”