The owner of a Camden County-based wastewater treatment and chemical supply company was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution for defrauding the Environmental Protection Agency and a private corporation.

According to court documents, John Drimak Jr., owner of JMJ Environmental Inc. in Laurel Springs, paid about $411,000 in kickbacks to more than a dozen co-conspirators at EPA-designated Superfund areas at the Federal Creosote site in Manville, Somerset County, and the Diamond Alkali site in Newark.

Authorities said kickbacks came in the form of cash and checks, as well as paid vacations, home renovations, boat trailers and payment of personal business expenses.

Drimak was ordered to pay a $30,000 criminal fine and $283,241 to the EPA, the victim in this case. His company is to pay a matching criminal fine.

Both pleaded guilty in July 2008 to rigging bids and delivering subcontracts at the Federal Creosote site for a five-year period, starting in the spring 2002. Drimak also pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the EPA and a Texas-based general contractor, Tierra Solutions.

Authorities said Drimak was part of a false invoicing and kickback scheme from January 2002 to May 2007 and filed false income tax returns for 2002 through 2005.

In 1919, Federal Creosote began covering railroad ties with creosote — a wood preservative — and did so for 37 years, discharging the coal-based substance through canals into waste lagoons. Homes and a mall were built on top of the contaminated soil and lagoons.

A cleanup action there is partially funded by the EPA.

On the Diamond Alkali site in Newark, the chemical company produced the herbicide Agent Orange. Under a settlement with the EPA and state regulators, Tierra Solutions was required to fund remediation and maintenance at the site.

Ten people and three firms are charged in this investigation with more than $3 million in criminal fines and restitution handed out and four individuals sentenced to jail time.


A top ThyssenKrupp executive was convicted of murder in Italy on Friday for a 2007 plant blaze that killed seven workers in Italy, news reports said.

The court in Turin sentenced ThyssenKrupp’s CEO for Italy, Harald Espenhahn, to 16 1/2 years in prison, as had been requested by the prosecutors, ANSA and LaPresse news agencies said. Five other company officials were convicted on manslaughter charges and sentenced up to 13 1/2 years in prison, according to the reports.

The trial has been hailed as historic because it was the first time that workplace deaths in Italy had led to murder charges and, now, a conviction.

Relatives of the victims, some wearing T-shirts featuring photos of the victims, applauded after the verdict was read in a Turin courtroom. Some cried, others hugged and thanked the leading prosecutor, Raffaele Guariniello.

“I believe this conviction can mean a lot for the safety of workplaces,” Guariniello said, calling the ruling “epoch-making.”

The verdict, reached after several hours of deliberations, can be appealed. ThyssenKrupp called it “incomprehensible and unexplainable” in a statement carried by ANSA. It expressed its pain for the workers’ deaths, and said that “a similar tragedy must never repeat itself.”

One worker died immediately in the blaze at the German steelmaker’s plant in Turin, while the other six died later in the hospital. The deaths prompted calls in Italy for improved safety measures in the workplace. ThyssenKrupp AG said after the blaze that there was no confirmation that any safety violations had played a role in the fire.

Labor Minister Maurizio Sacconi said the verdict sets a “relevant precedent.”

Giorgio Airaudo of the metalworkers union Fiom welcomed the ruling, saying: “When workers are injured or killed at the workplace it’s never by chance, it’s always somebody’s responsibility.”

A former foreman at a West Virginia coal mine where an explosion killed 29 workers last year pleaded guilty on Wednesday to lying to investigators about his job qualifications, the first plea in a federal probe of the blast.

Thomas Harrah, 45, pleaded guilty to falsely claiming he was qualified to serve as a foreman at the Upper Big Branch mine between January 2008 and August 2009, about eight months before the explosion at the Massey Energy-owned mine.

“This case arose from our investigation into the explosion and is directed at preventing a similar tragedy from happening again,” Booth Goodwin, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, said in a statement.

Investigators have been examining Massey’s actions and the circumstances around the blast. The mine had been cited for many safety violations in the past but company officials have denied the explosion was the result of “willful disregard” for safety.

Harrah was the second person charged as a result of the criminal investigation into the accident. The head of security at the facility, Hughie Stover, was charged with impeding investigators probing the explosion and lying to them as well.

The April 5, 2010, explosion at the mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, was the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years. Massey has since agreed to be acquired by Alpha Natural Resources .

Harrah admitted he had failed the mine foreman’s examination and used someone else’s certification number on reports stating he inspected underground areas where miners were scheduled to work or travel.

Two contractors have been charged in the death of a hardhat killed at a Staten Island construction site more than two years ago, authorities announced today.

Michael Fazio, 50, of Short Hills, NJ, was hit with criminally negligent homicide and Anthony Malfi, 43, of Todt Hill, was charged with reckless endangerment in connection with the Feb. 12, 2009 death of foreman Robert McGee, said DA Daniel Donovan.

“These men and their companies were responsible for the safety of the building and the safety of the people who worked at their site. They ignored that responsibility and someone died because of it,” said Donovan.

McGee, 59, was crushed to death when a 60-foot-tall cinderblock wall toppled onto him at a Rosebank construction site as 60-mph winds blew across the city that morning.

Malfi, who owns Well Built Development Corp., was tasked with erecting a wall at a 1214-1222 Bay St., however a two-year investigation found his company did a shoddy job, authorities said.

The wall was not built to spec, and it was taller and wider than it was supposed to be, court papers state.

Malfi and Fazio, who runs Woodrow Builders LLC and was the general contractor on the project, allegedly began to fight over the price of building the wall and Malfi walked off the job.

Fazio never reinforced the wall properly, or had it inspected, and left it in a hazardous condition as work at the site continued, court papers added.

“All builders have a responsibility to protect their workforce and the public, and when they fail to do so, there are serious consequences,” said Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri.

Both men were arraigned in State Supreme Court in St. George and released on their own recognizance.

“Michael was and is devastated about the accident; however to criminalize the accident two years later is Monday Morning quarterbacking at its worst,” said Fazio’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman.