Tonawanda News

The Town

March 28, 2013

TONAWANDA COKE FOUND GUILTY

(Continued)

BUFFALO —

"That's a significant amount," Mango said. 

The next 10 charges deal with required environmental barriers, or baffles, in the plant's two quench towers. During the trial, the team claimed that an exemption granted by the state Department of Conservation applied to the plant's first quench tower, named in charges six through 10. 

That exemption was based on the plant's rare use of the first quench tower, but witnesses who worked at the plant weren't able provide a clear consensus on how often the tower was utilized, and some employees said that for months, and possibly years, the tower was out of commission. 

The jury acquitted the company and Kamholz on charges they did not instal baffles in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009, but guilty of the charge in 2008. 

The jury did find the defendants guilty of operating the second quench tower without baffles between 2005 and 2009 — which account for the charges listed in counts 11 through 15. 

The Tonawanda Coke defense team, headed by Gregory Linsin, made no effort to deny that the Clean Air Act violations took place. In fact, he even admitted that the plant was guilty of the crimes. 

Instead, Linsin argued that the DEC and the EPA "seemingly authorized" the plant to commit the violations, and that therefore, Tonawanda Coke was "entrapped" by the governmental agencies. 

But the jury didn't buy it. 

On count 16, the obstruction charge, Tonawanda Coke was found not guilty, while Kamholz, who became noticeably flushed when the guilty verdicts were read to a silent but packed courtroom, was not as fortunate.

Linsin declined to comment on the verdict when approached by reporters outside the courtroom. Rod Personius, the attorney representing Kamholz, was also asked if he wanted to comment. His reply: "Not when it happens like this."

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