scales of justice

Long Prison Terms Given to Atlantic States Defendants

Two of four former officials of Phillipsburg, N.J.-based Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms this week by a federal judge in Trenton for their roles in environmental crimes and impeding OSHA and EPA investigations. The company is a division of McWane, Inc. of Alabama, a company that became renowned as a safety bad actor in part because of this case. Atlantic States and the four men were convicted in April 2006 after a trial that lasted nearly seven months; one defendant, former engineering manager Daniel Yadzinski, was acquitted.

A fatal forklift accident in 2000 was a key part of the case; testimony indicated the defendants repaired the forklift's faulty brakes to mislead investigators and staged a phony demonstration within hours after Alfred Coxe was killed on the job.

The charges included regularly discharging oil into the Delaware River, concealing serious worker injuries from health and safety inspectors, and maintaining a dangerous workplace that contributed to multiple severe injuries and the death of one employee at the Phillipsburg plant, at which the company produced cast iron pipe.

U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper sentenced former plant manager John Prisque to 70 months in prison on Monday -- the minimum sentence called for in federal sentencing guidelines. Prisque was charged in a conspiracy count that involved making false statements to OSHA, EPA, and the FBI; impeding the OSHA and EPA investigations; and corruptly influencing an OSHA proceeding. He instructed an employee to lie to OSHA by saying a safety guard had not been changed after a June 25, 1999, incident in which a worker was seriously injured when a saw blade broke, and he instructed an injured worker to lie to OSHA after an April 1999 forklift accident by saying he did not break his leg in that accident.

On Tuesday, Cooper sentenced Scott Faubert, 45, former human resources manager at the plant, to 41 months in prison. He was convicted of one count of conspiracy and three counts of obstructing a federal investigation. She will sentence former plant maintenance supervisor Jeffrey Maury today and former finishing superintendent Craig Davidson tomorrow.

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