By August 19, 2015 Read More →

Freedom’s Farrell pleads guilty to pollution charges

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Tom Hindman Dennis Farrell enters the federal courthouse in Charleston on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to two charges in the January 2014 chemical leak into the Elk River.

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Tom Hindman
Dennis Farrell enters the federal courthouse in Charleston on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to two charges in the January 2014 chemical leak into the Elk River.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former Freedom Industries official Dennis Farrell on Tuesday admitted to two water pollution charges for his role in the January 2014 chemical leak that contaminated the drinking-water supply for hundreds of thousands of people in Charleston and surrounding communities.

Farrell pleaded guilty to unlawful discharge of refuse matter into a stream and to negligent violation of a water pollution permit, as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

“Guilty,” Farrell said twice when U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston asked him for his plea to each of the misdemeanor counts.

Asked later by Johnston if he had any defenses to the charges against him, Farrell conferred quietly with defense attorney Mike Carey and then told the judge, “Not that we believe would be successful at trial.”

Farrell faces a minimum of 30 days and a statutory maximum of two years in prison when Johnston sentences him at 2 p.m. on Dec. 14. He also faces fines of up to $200,000 or twice the gain or loss resulting from his conduct, Johnston said.

Farrell originally had faced 3 misdemeanor water pollution counts related to the leak of Crude MCHM and other chemicals from Freedom’s Etowah Terminal, located on the Elk River just 1.5 miles upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional drinking-water treatment and distribution plant…

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