FULTON COUNTY -- The owner of a former leather tannery in Johnstown has pleaded guilty in federal court to storing hundreds of gallons of hazardous waste without a permit after the plant closed.
Robert Carville, 56, formerly of Johnstown and now of Florida, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Syracuse Monday in connection with dangerous chemicals that were stored at the mill during his ownership of the former Carville National Leather Corp. building, located on Knox Avenue.
The plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Tyler Amon, special agent in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division in New York City. Carville was charged in April but initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Carville National Leather Corp. was a family-owned tannery that operated from 1976 until it closed for financial reasons in September 2013, federal officials said. Carville owned and operated the company for about 10 years prior to its closing.
In pleading guilty, Carville admitted that, as the owner and manager of the tannery, he was responsible for the materials inside the tannery when it closed.
Prosecutors said Carville ultimately moved out of the state and left behind, in the tannery building, hundreds of containers of hazardous chemicals, including some that had labels on them such as “corrosive,” “acidic,” and, “hazardous.” In his plea, Carville admitted he did not have a permit to store hazardous materials at the tannery. He also admitted he stored the chemicals illegally for more than two years.
The indictment handed up in April identified the hazardous materials as including chromium, lead, ignitable waste and corrosives.
Carville will be sentenced May 20 by Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. He faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $50,000 per day of violation. Carville is free on bail.