Cleveland: Arrest made in suspicious call to sewer district

5:33 PM, Oct 23, 2012   |    comments
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CUAYHOGA HEIGHTS -- Police here today arrested a man in connection with a suspicious call made to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant on Monday.

Police arrested Joshua Petro and charges are pending, police said.

The arrest stems from a suspicious call made to the plant and the caller also mentioned another unnamed plant during the call.

At 6:48 a.m., a security officer at Southerly received a phone call allegedly from Petro who indicated that "something would happen at the Southerly Plant and your other plant."

The exact type of action to be taken against the plants was not defined in the phone call, police said, nor was the "other plant" identity -- Westerly or Easterly -- clear.

"Our first concern was to assure that employees, contractors, vendors and visitors were safe,' stated Julius Ciaccia, NEORSD Executive Director.

"We were able to determine early on in the investigation that safety was not jeopardized."

With the assistance of Verizon Wireless and AT&T, NEORSD staff traced the call to a pre-paid phone. It was determined that the initial call was made at E. 49th Steret and Pershing Avenue.

Using GPS coordinates of other phone calls made throughout the day, NEORSD staff determined that the pre-paid phone was in Southerly plant throughout the day of the incident.

Further, with the assistance of the Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center, NEORSD was able to determine the owner of the phone as Joshua Petro.

By cross-referencing both the Southerly plant employee and contractor lists, it was discovered that Petro is an employee of a construction company hired to fulfill an electric contract for Renewable Energy Facility which, when fully constructed and operational, will incinerate biosolids at the Southerly plant.

Also, NEORSD enlisted the assistance of the Cleveland Police Department's K-9 handlers and bomb sniffing dogs to search to REF for any explosive devices. None were detected.

Additionally, contractors will be required to sweep the REF to assure the safety and security of the equipment.

The FBI Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit was consulted, as well.

"Threats against our facilities will not be tolerated," stated Shawn Hageman, Chief of Sewer District Security. "Regardless of the intent, any threat made against our staff and our facilities, which are deemed critical infrastructure by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will be taken seriously."

Given the nature of the situation, Southerly plant employees' personal, vacation and sick time requests were honored for the day of the threat.


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