Akron: Owner gets probation in Rocky River cyanide fish kill

5:58 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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AKRON -- The co-owner of a precious metals company was sentenced to one year of probation and a $5,000 fine for dumping cyanide in a storm drain that led to the Rocky River, killing 30,893 fish.

Teresina Montorsi, 75, of Grafton, and her husband Renato Montorsi, 80, and their Kennedy Mint precious metal company will also pay $300,000 to the Cleveland Metroparks for dumping a drum of cyanide down a storm drain that flows into the Rocky River.

The poison killed 30,893 fish in a three-mile stretch of the river in April 2012.

Renato Montorsi and Kennedy Mint, which sells collector's coins, were indicted by a federal grand jury Oct. 10 for dumping 55 gallons of liquid cyanide down a storm drain in their business' parking lot, and then trying to hide their involvement from investigators, the indictment alleged.

"When you put something down a drain, it never goes 'nowhere.' It always goes somewhere and in this case, it went right to the Rocky River and caused the death of over 30,000 fish," said Special Assistant United States Attorney Brad Beeson.

Through tears and her thick Italian accent, Teresina Montorsi said in court she didn't know how to express how sorry she was and how she got into "this mess."

She and her attorneys denied to comment on the sentence when asked. U.S. District Court Judge John Adams said, "She's suffered enough," under an at times abusive relationship with her husband. Mrs. Montorsi also faces a $5,000 fine on top of the company's fines.

Prosecutors say the punishment fits the crime. "We're very satisfied with the agreement in this case," said Beeson. "Because the monies will be going to the Metroparks, and they are a great steward of the environment and will use this money to improve the environment and the quality of the water here in Northeast Ohio."

"Well, that's a start. They oughta close their business and everything for what they did," said fisherman Daniel Popovic, of Strongsville.

Kennedy Mint is already in the process of closing because of Renato Montorsi's age and illness. The only two remaining employees are Teresina Montorsi herself and another person who operated as a government witness in the case.

Cleveland Metroparks say they'll place the funds in an account to help support aquatic conservation and fisheries projects throughout the park system.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife will restock the more than 30,000 steelhead trout killed either later this year, or early next year.

That's one thing fisherman like Popovic would like to see. "Get some native fish in here. More steelhead, bass," he said.

The indictment said Renato Montorsi and two employees attempted to dispose of two 55-gallon barrels of liquid cyanide into a dumpster outside of Kennedy Mint April 16, and then emptying one of them into a storm drain by puncturing the drum with a hammer and sharp tool when the waste company did not take the drums.

When investigators asked to search the business, Teresina Montorsi stalled them while Renato Montorsi hid the drum in the warehouse, according to the indictment.

On April 22 -- four days after the dumping -- the first reports of the dead fish surfaced, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

ODNR counted a total of 30,893 dead fish a three-mile stretch of the Rocky River in Strongsville's Mill Stream Run Reservation.

Federal prosecutors in March dropped charges against Renato Montorsi, 80, after a forensic psychiatrist found him to be incompetent to stand trial.

In U.S. District Court May 23, Teresina Montorsi pleaded guilty to their roles in dumping 55 gallons of cyanide down a storm drain.

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