Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 9, 2013

Tonawanda Coke sentencing postponed

Niagara Gazette — A sentencing hearing for Tonawanda Coke and its environmental manager, Mark Kamholz, has been postponed and a new date has not been set, Judge William Skretny's office confirmed Monday. 

The sentencing was previously scheduled for Sept. 30. A status conference on the case will take place at 1 p.m. on Oct. 22 to determine if a hearing is necessary, the case's docket states. 

In March, Tonawanda Coke and Kamholz were found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act and the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act. Kamholz was also found guilty of an obstruction of justice charge. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison for Kamholz and fines in excess of $200 million for the River Road business. 

Since the jury delivered its verdict, the Clean Air Coalition, local officials and residents have pushed for the possible fine money to stay in the community and be used to help affected residents. How exactly that would work remains unclear. 

U.S. Attorney William Hochul said in June that the process is complicated and the government is treading on new ground, as the federal case against the plant is only the second Clean Air Act Case under Title V — the section that set up a national permitting program and required industrial companies to monitor their air pollution.

"Keeping the funds local is complicated. It involves many other laws, including some that discuss where proposed fines must be allocated," Hochul said. "But in some other environmental cases, part of the sentence was a community restitution component."

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