ROCKY RIVER, OH (WOIO) - A Strongsville company and the company owner's wife were ordered to pay more than $330,000 for their roles in the dumping of a drum of liquid cyanide into a storm drain that flowed into the Rocky River, resulting in the death of more than 30,000 fish, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Kennedy Mint, Inc. was ordered to make a community service payment of $300,000 to the Cleveland Metroparks. In addition, the Court ordered Kennedy Mint to pay restitution in the amount of $30,893. The company previously pleaded guilty to violating of the Clean Water Act.
Teresina Montorsi, 74, was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000. She previously pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
"Clean, fresh water is Ohio's greatest natural resource," Dettelbach said. "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."
"America's waterways must be protected from illegal dumping of industrial waste," said Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. EPA's criminal enforcement program in Ohio. "The deliberate discharge of cyanide into a stream that runs through Rocky River Metropark is unconscionable, carrying severe consequences for wildlife and human health. Today's sentencing shows that those who skirt environmental laws to save the costs of safe and legal disposal will be held accountable."
"We are pleased that the river will be restocked with fish," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "This case demonstrates the devastating consequences that a single dumping can have on the environment. We will continue to work with our Task Force partners to investigate and prosecute violations of environmental protection laws and those who attempt to cover up such violations."
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, Ohio, 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 pay $300,000 as part of community service. The $300,000 will be paid to the Cleveland Metroparks.
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 and Ohio EPA investigators 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.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S Attorney Brad J. Beeson following an investigation by the following agencies: United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation; the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District; the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Special Investigations; the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, and the Cleveland Metroparks Rangers, all members of the Northeast Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force.