Former Superintendent of Oswego Wastewater Treatment Plant Pleads Guilty to Clean Water Act Violation

SYRACUSE, NY (5/23/2019) – Gary Hallinan, age 61, of Oswego, New York, pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Syracuse to negligently discharging wastewater from the City of Oswego Wastewater Treatment Plant into Lake Ontario in violation of the Clean Water Act on three dates between March 2015 and June 2015, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith, Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) in New York, and Bernard Rivers, Director of Law Enforcement, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

In pleading guilty, Hallinan admitted that in December 2014, while he was the Superintendent of the Oswego Wastewater Treatment Plant, the plant’s centrifuge, an essential piece of equipment to process wastewater and remove untreated or improperly treated sewage, stopped operating. As a result, the plant could no longer properly remove sewage from its wastewater. Over the next five months, Hallinan, as the superintendent of the plant, failed to take action to remove sewage from the plant’s wastewater or to report the broken centrifuge to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. As a result of the defendant’s negligence, the Oswego Wastewater Treatment Plant discharged wastewater containing solid sewage in violation of its permit under the Clean Water Act. These discharges took place on March 1, 2015; June 19, 2015; and June 23, 2015. The concentration of solid matter in the water discharged into Lake Ontario on June 23, 2015, was approximately 60 times higher than allowed by the plant’s permit.

The charge to which Hallinan pled guilty yesterday carries a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 1 year. The defendant will be sentenced on September 24, 2019 by United States Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), the New York State DEC, Division of Law Enforcement and Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation Unit (BECI), and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael F. Perry.

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