Ben Lupo and employee indicted by federal grand jury - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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Ben Lupo and employee indicted by federal grand jury

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A federal grand jury has now indicted Ben Lupo, the owner of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, LLC in Youngstown.

One of Lupo's employees is also charged with a federal crime after a brine-dumping incident on January 31st where the water that was laced with several chemicals and pollutants made its way into the Mahoning River.

Sixty-two-year-old Ben Lupo of Poland, his employee, 34-year-old Michael Guesman of Cortland, as well as Lupo's company Hardrock Excavating, LLC, all face one criminal charge of violating the federal Clean Water Act.

A federal grand jury out of Cleveland issued the charges Thursday afternoon.

The indictment comes after federal and state investigators with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources say that Lupo instructed Guesman to illegally discharge thousands of gallons of brine and oil-based drilling mud into a storm water drain at his Salt Springs Road facility.

It's alleged that Lupo told Guesman to illegally disposed of the liquid waste after dark, and when no one else was around.

The brine and oilfield waste that was laced with several chemicals and pollutants made its way into a portion of the Mahoning River, and led to a massive clean-up that is still on-going after nearly four weeks.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says, "We will continue to assist in the federal prosecution of this case but we will also pursue with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources any other violations of Ohio's environmental protection laws. This case is a reminder that we should look at making state law equal to federal law when it comes to protecting our waterways."

Lupo's operating permits for D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, LLC have been permanently revoked. Lupo was arrested in relation to the incident on February 14th.

If convicted, Lupo and Guesman both face three years in prison and a fine of $50,000 or more. The company could face a fine of $50,000 per day of violation or $500,000, whichever is larger.

On a related note, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources ruled late Tuesday that Lupo has so far failed to prove that he didn't violate state regulations and Hardrock Excavating's permit to transport brine waste is revoked.

Lupo allegedly was allowing another company he owns, known as Mohawk Disposal Management, to use Hardrock's brine hauling permits. By law, the permits and certification are not transferrable.

Lupo, however, can still appeal.

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