The defense attorney for a former executive charged with directing the dumping of hazardous wastes in Baltimore Harbor told a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury today that despite six days of testimony and "an avalanche" of documents, the prosecution failed to prove that the man was responsible.
Frank Paul Young Sr., who worked his way up from equipment maintenance man to general manager of American Recovery Co. Inc.'s oil recycling facility at Sparrows Point, is accused of directing the dumping of hazardous wastes into Tin Mill Canal, which flows into Bear Creek and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Young, 43, also is accused of conspiring to violate Maryland environmental laws and of conspiring to block a state grand jury investigating the dumping.
In a brief interview outside the courtroom today, Young said he was fired by American Recovery in April and is looking for work.
Referring to more than 100 documents submitted as evidence by state prosecutors, defense attorney Paul Mark Sandler told the jury, "this case requires more than a snow job . . .[Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs'] Hazardous Wastes Strikeforce must be told by your verdict to prove with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to come forth."
He argued, "Who put the product where and when we don't know." State and company records did not show Young "in an airplane somewhere pressing buttons and directing a maniacal scheme" to pollute the environment, Sandler said.
On Tuesday the prosecution's key witness, John William Driscoll, former manager of the plant, testified that Young approved the dumping of chemical wastes into the canal and later helped erase and destroy the records of waste law violations. Driscoll, 35, also said he and Young agreed to lie to the Baltimore County grand jury investigating American Recovery last year. Last December, Driscoll pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the laws and has been promised in return for his testimony that he will serve no more than 18 months in jail.
American Recovery also has pleaded guilty in the case to illegally storing and disposing of a wide variety of wastes, including oil laden with cancer-causing PCBs. The company agreed in February to pay a $350,000 fine, the largest ever paid for environmental pollution, according to state officials.
But Sandler today discredited Driscoll's testimony, calling evidence of the alleged conspiracy between Young and Driscoll as "murky like the Tin Mill Canal."
Sandler told the jury that state and federal environmental laws are complex and confused Young. "He's not a lawyer, he's not a scientist," Sandler said of Young. "And you're holding him responsible as a criminal."
If convicted of all eight counts for which he has been indicted, Young faces up to 40 years in prison and fines of $1.6 million. Because of the state holiday Thursday, jurors will begin deliberating on the case Friday.