(Cleveland) - A Strongsville company and the company owner’s wife have pleaded guilty for their roles in the dumping of a drum of liquid cyanide into a storm drain that flowed into the Rocky River. It resulted in the death of more than 30,000 fish
Kennedy Mint, Inc. pleaded guilty to violating of the Clean Water Act. Teresina Montorsi, 74, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
“Clean, fresh water is Ohio’s greatest natural resource,” , said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “We are satisfied that we were able to determine who put the cyanide into the river and killed tens of thousands of fish. The restitution from this case will be used to restock the river with fish, so that people can again enjoy the natural beauty of the Rocky River.”
Company owner Renato Montorsi was indicted last year, but those charges were dismissed after he was found to be incompetent to stand trial.
Renato and Teresina Montorsi are married and live in Grafton, according to public records.
Kennedy Mint will pay restitution of $30,893 -- $1 for every fish killed by the illegal discharge. The money will be paid to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and used to restock the river with steelhead trout under the terms of the plea agreement.
Kennedy Mint will also make a payment to the Cleveland Metroparks. The amount will be determined at sentencing, which is scheduled for Aug. 29.
Renato Montorsi owned and operated Kennedy Mint, which is located in Strongsville. Kennedy Mint specializes in collectible coins, but previously conducted metal plating and printing operations. The East Branch of the Rocky River is near the Kennedy Mint facility and storm water from that location’s parking lot flows into the East Branch of the Rocky River, according to court documents.
On April 16, 2012, Montorsi, with assistance from an employee, put two drums into a dumpster outside Kennedy Mint. On April 17, the waste hauling company declined to dispose of the contents of the dumpster because of the two drums inside, according to court documents.
On April 18, Montorsi moved the drums from the dumpster and placed them next to the storm drain in the Kennedy Mint parking lot, according to court documents.
Later that day, Montorsi used a hammer and sharp metal tool to punch a hole near the bottom of a drum that included a poison label featuring a skull and cross bones. After punching the hole, liquid cyanide in the drum was discharged into the storm drain and eventually the East Branch of the Rocky River, according to court documents.
Around April 22, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources received reports of dead fish in the East Branch of the Rocky River. Nearly every fish was dead downstream for the next three miles, according to the court documents.
The Ohio DNR counted approximately 30,893 dead fish in that three-mile stretch of the river, due to the discharge of cyanide, according to court documents.
On April 25, personnel from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency asked to enter the Kennedy Mint facility to look for the drums, which they did not locate. After they left, Renato Montorsi, with help from Teresina Montorsi, moved two drums from Kennedy Mint to their residence so they would not be discovered if investigators returned, according to court documents.
On June 22, Teresina Montorsi gave permission to U.S. EPA agents to search their home without a warrant, at which point the agents found the punctured drum and another drum that contained cyanide, according to court documents.
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