Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 17, 2014

Tonawanda Coke appeals conviction and sentence

Niagara Gazette — Tonawanda Coke, the River Road plant that was found guilty of violating two federal environmental crimes, has filed a notice of appeal, a document filed with the U.S. District Court of Western New York indicates. 

The appeal, which was filed April 9, states that the plant appeals both its conviction and sentence. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is based in New York City, will now handle the case. 

“We will now be given an opportunity to respond, and ultimately file briefs,” U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said Wednesday. “This is a very frequent occurrence. Whenever there is a conviction, the defendant files an appeal ... in my 27 years of being a prosecutor, I can’t think of a case that didn’t involve an appeal. It’s very routine.” 

Last year, a jury found the coke-burning plant guilty of violating the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for releasing cancer-causing toxins into the air and dumping hazardous material on the ground. In March, Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny sentenced the plant to pay $12.5 million, and ordered it to fund $12.2 million in community service projects. 

The plant’s environmental manager, Mark Kamholz, was also a defendant in the case. He was found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act, Resource Recovery and Conservation Act, as well as obstructing justice. Kamholz was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay $20,000 in fines. He has not filed an appeal. 

After a panel of three Second Circuit judges set a schedule for the process, Tonawanda Coke’s attorney, Gregory Linsin, will file a brief, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will file an argument in response.

Attorneys on both sides will then present their arguments in person before the judges, and three-judge panel will issue a decision. 

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