A Northwood man accused of dumping oil barrels by the side of the road has pleaded guilty and must pay a fine.
Jason Keith Cone, 43, appeared Monday in the courtroom of Wood County Common Pleas Judge Joel Kuhlman.
He was indicted in October for open burning, an unclassified felony. From Sept. 20-22, he recklessly disposed of solid waste or infectious waste by open burning or open dumping.
Wood County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hoppenjans said the charge was for illegal dumping.
Hoppenjans said the offer made to the defendant was that he plead no contest to the indicted charge and in return pay a $10,000 fine.
A no contest plea means Cone accepts the conviction but avoids a factual admission of guilt.
Kuhlman said the maximum penalty for the charge is four years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.
Hoppenjans said that Lake Township police received a report Sept. 22 of several barrels dumped on Latcha and Luckey roads.
They found several 50-gallon, 30-gallon and five-gallon barrels, all with the name ARCO on them, he said.
Police traced the business name to a local resident who said she met the defendant at a garage sale. She told police he was interested in an oil furnace that she had for sale, Hoppenjans said.
They agreed he could take the oil furnace as long as he took the barrels and disposed of them properly, Hoppenjans said.
It took two trips to load all the barrels. The owner described the barrels, including the markings, and those same barrels were found on the two roads which roughly connected her property with Cone’s.
Hoppenjans asked for community control, to ensure payment.
Defense attorney Timothy Longacre asked for no probation, saying his client regrets the entire incident and just wants to get it behind him.
Kuhlman asked if there were any requests for restitution.
Hoppenjans said no, adding that the barrels had been dumped in ditches along the road, on private property. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency did clean up what little of the oil and grease in the barrels had spilled, tested it and found the product did not contain any dangerous chemicals.
“Since they were found so quickly, the leakage was minimal,” Hoppenjans said.
Kuhlman imposed a sentence of one year of community control, during which time the $10,000 fine must be paid.
He asked Cone if he was cavalier with all of his business, and if he needed supervision.
“This is a very valuable lesson, sir,” Cone said after responding with a “no” to the judge’s question.
“A $10,000 fine will wake you up,” Kuhlman said.
He reserved a two-year prison term in the event Cone violates the community control sanctions.
Longacre asked if his client pays the fine before the year is up, could he have his community control vacated.
Kuhlman said the request can be made, but he will likely deny it.
“I’m not a scientist or a trained chemist … and to say that no harm was caused is a pretty easy thing to say,” he said. “I don’t know if you know that either, but it is something not to take lightly.”