Christopher Gattarello was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for failing to remove asbestos from the former National Acme Building on East 131st St. before demolishing the building. The 53-year-old businessman was also ordered to pay $7.8 million in restitution for violating the Clean Air Act.
Built in 1917, the 570-thousand square foot facility was once a bustling manufacturing hub in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which conducted its own investigation, Gattarello bought the Acme site for the purpose of opening a recycling plant.
Instead, he used it as his personal dumping ground for tons of garbage his companies brought there, instead of taking it to a landfill.
When Cleveland 19 first visited the site in 2013, we found waste piled two stories high, and rats running throughout the facility. The site is smack in the middle of a residential area with a school building nearby. But it wasn’t the only inner-city location used by Gattarello to dump his trash. Cleveland 19 hidden cameras caught Gattarello also hauling trash to an empty warehouse in the Collinwood area. Days later, city inspectors showed up in force at the facility and cited Gatarello.
Back at the Acme site, Gattarello leaves behind an environmental nightmare. While the EPA removed most of the asbestos in 2013, the city claims it will cost nearly $6 million to clean up the garbage that remains. Attempts in court to get Gattarello to pay up have been unsuccessful. The waste hauler says he doesn’t have the money.
Through the years, Gattarello has declined to talk to Cleveland 19 News.
Robert Shaw, a Gattarello employee, was also sentenced to a year in prison for a related scheme to defraud a Louisiana company. William Jackson, who was hired by Gattarello to tear down the Acme building, is set for sentencing next month.
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