President of Mace Personal Defense, Inc. in Bennington Sentenced and Ordered to Pay $100,000 Criminal Fine for Storing Hazardous Waste Without a Permit in Violation of Federal Environmental Law
Burlington, VT –Tristram J. Coffin, the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, and Michael Hubbard, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Investigations Division for the Environmental Protection Agency (New England Region), jointly announced today that Jon Goodrich, 66, of Bennington, the former President of the Bennington Operations of Mace Personal Defense, Inc. ("Mace") in Bennington, was sentenced today before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Christina Reiss in Rutland. Goodrich had previously pled guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement, that he unlawfully stored hazardous waste at the Bennington facility without a permit. Judge Reiss accepted the terms of the plea agreement and ordered Goodrich to pay a $100,000 criminal fine, which he paid at the end of the proceeding. The terms of the plea agreement recommended that no jail sentence be imposed. In addition, Judge Reiss found that no further court supervision in the form of probation was necessary. The defendant had been under court supervision since December 2010.
Goodrich pled guilty to a felony offense under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA"), which was enacted by Congress to address hazardous waste disposal problems caused primarily by industrial operations. The intent of RCRA is to protect human health and the environment by requiring the proper safe management of hazardous waste from the time it is created until the time when it is disposed, and at all points in between.
The Bennington facility of Mace produces tear gas and pepper spray products and, according to the Government's allegations, produces hazardous waste as part of its manufacturing process. The federal charges stem from an emergency removal action conducted by the EPA and Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation beginning in January 2008. During the initial inspection, the inspectors observed more than 80 drums of unlabeled chemicals in the mill buildings. Many of these containers contained hazardous wastes that were hazardous because of their "ignitability" and "reactivity." Furthermore, there were no signs indicating the storage of hazardous chemicals or hazardous waste in these areas. EPA officials had significant concerns about the safety of the stored hazardous waste and determined that an emergency removal action was necessary. Goodrich, Mace, and its employees fully cooperated with this removal action. Mace and Goodrich spent over $780,000 cleaning up the site.
The Indictment charged both Mace and Jon Goodrich with storing hazardous waste without a permit. Mace previously pled guilty and agreed to – and paid – a separate $100,000 criminal fine. Mace and Goodrich stored hazardous waste at the Vermont Mill Properties facility for several years in excess of the amounts allowed under the hazardous waste regulations. The majority of the hazardous waste was stored outside the facility in shipping containers in close proximity to the Walloomsac River. Mace and Goodrich received multiple estimates for removing the hazardous waste beginning in the autumn of 2006 but did not take any action. According to court records, these original removal estimates were for approximately $70,000. The violations at issue here involved storage of hazardous waste without a permit and the Government did not allege that hazardous wastes were actually released into the environment.
United States Attorney Tristram Coffin stated that "this case illustrates that the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Environmental Protection Agency are prepared to vigilantly enforce federal environmental laws in Vermont and hold the managers of companies, who fail to comply, accountable for such violations." EPA Special Agent in Charge Michael Hubbard stated, "this is the latest example of our commitment to vigorously investigate cases where the public health and environment are put at risk."
This case was investigated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division. The United States is represented by United States Attorney Tristram Coffin, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella, and EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel Peter Kenyon. Mace is represented by Jack Sartore, Esq., of Burlington and Jon Goodrich is represented by John Pacht, Esq., of Burlington.