Man at fault for $6 million East Cleveland debris clean-up has questionable background

Man at fault for $6 million East Cleveland debris clean-up has questionable background

EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Ohio's EPA has agreed to pay for the clean up of the Arco Recycling Plant in East Cleveland.

The plant was ordered closed earlier this year for collecting and piling construction debris in four story mounds and not recycling it. The property is now abandoned by its owner.

His history might make you wonder how he was ever given a permit to operate. His name is George Michael Riley, or Michael Riley, of any of several other names he's used in both business and on dating sites.

Court records show he operated a similar facility in Licking County. He defaulted on a $500,000 bank loan, pleaded guilty to lying to get the loan, then filed for bankruptcy.

He's been extradited to Colorado for a criminal matter, and was convicted of theft, defrauding creditors, and grand theft in Ohio.

The most recent violation notice from the EPA before now was last June. It puts numbers on what went on at the facility. Only 11 percent of what was taken in by Arco was actually recycled and the oldest material at the bottom was left decaying and never removed.

Arlena LaBon was 108 when we talked to her last summer.

"Whoever gave them a permit for that was wrong," she said at the time.

She alerted Cleveland 19 to the Arco mess, sadly she won't see the cleanup. She died just three weeks ago.

On Nobel Road there was a good bit of skepticism over announcement of a clean up after repeated delays.

"Well, they're not coming in soon enough," said Edward Dillard, when told of the plan.

Some wondered why East Cleveland wasn't more skeptical when it sold the property to George Michael Riley for the recycling plant, given his history. In the past, bankruptcy proceedings have stopped creditors from being paid.

Ohio's Attorney General will try and recoup the $6 million cost, but given the history of the operator, that appears unlikely, leaving taxpayers stuck with the bill.

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