Youngstown-area men accused of dumping brine plead not guilty

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A northeast Ohio businessman and one of his employees have pleaded not guilty to charges alleging they violated the Clean Water Act by repeatedly dumping gas-drilling wastewater into a storm sewer.

Ben Lupo and employee Michael Guesman appeared Friday in federal court in Youngstown. Lupo is the owner of Hardrock Excavating LLC, whose business includes hauling brine.

Authorities allege that Lupo directed the employee to dump thousands of gallons of drilling mud and brine into a sewer that empties into the Mahoning River watershed.

Prosecutors say the men could face prison if they're convicted, and the company could be fined.

The state revoked a permit for Hardrock after workers reported seeing the material being dumped.

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