Mark Kamholz, the longtime environmental point man at Erie Coke Corp., was found guilty this week in a Buffalo courtroom of 15 counts of violating clean air laws related to his duties at another company.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said a federal jury found Tonawanda Coke Corp., owned by the same owner as Erie Coke Corp., guilty of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Kamholz, 65, the plant’s environmental manager, could face up to 75 years in prison and $200 million in fines.
According to a published report in the Tonawanda News, the company’s defense team didn’t deny that the violations took place. Instead, an attorney for the defense argued that environmental agencies “seemingly authorized” the plant to commit the violations.
Amanda Witman, a spokeswoman with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, confirmed today that Kamholz was the DEP’s environmental contact at Erie Coke for more than a decade, but has not served in that role for several years.
For much of that time, he was also the environmental manager at the Tonawanda Coke plant, she said.
Erie Coke, located at the foot of East Avenue, is operating under a federal consent decree after repeated air-quality violations. Under the terms of that settlement, Erie Coke agreed to pay a $6 million fine an additional $15 million over three years to bring the plant into compliance with clean-air laws.