July 30, 2014

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Woman fined for helping cover up killing of 30,000 fish with cyanide

A Grafton woman was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for helping her husband cover up that he was responsible for a fish kill in the Rocky River last year.

Teresina Montorsi, 76, pleaded guilty in May to a federal obstruction of justice charge in connection with the deaths of more than 30,000 fish following the illegal dumping of liquid cyanide into the East Branch of the Rocky River in April 2012.

Her husband, Renato Montorsi, was originally charged in the case, but those charges were dropped after it was determined he was incompetent to stand trial for puncturing a drum of cyanide and letting it drain into a storm sewer that flowed into the Rocky River. Court documents said he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and renal failure.

The couple’s company, Kennedy Mint, agreed to pay $30,893 to restock the river with steelhead trout. That works out to $1 per fish, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Beeson said. The company will also pay $300,000 to the Cleveland Metroparks to rehabilitate rivers in the park system, he said.

“The fish kill was significant,” Beeson said. “Over 10 years of doing this I’ve never seen a case of such significant environmental damage.”

Renato Montorsi, 80, first tried to dispose of two drums by placing them in a garbage bin on April 16, 2012, at the company’s Strongsville facility, but the waste hauler refused to take them the next day, according to court documents.

That prompted Montorsi to place the drums next to a storm drain in Kennedy Mint’s parking lot on April 18, 2012, prosecutors wrote. He then took a hammer and a sharp metal tool and punctured the drum, draining the cyanide into the storm sewer.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources began receiving reports of dead fish on April 22, 2012, which was Earth Day. Prosecutors wrote that the fish kill extended nearly three miles down the river.

When investigators from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency went to the company three days later, they didn’t locate the drums. Prosecutors have said Teresina Montorsi stalled the investigators while her husband hid the drums in the back of the warehouse.

After investigators left the Montorsis moved the drums to their Grafton home, where they were located June 22, 2012, according to court documents.

Teresina Montorsi’s lawyers wrote in a sentencing memorandum that she did not know what she had driven back to her house until she arrived there.

“Mrs. Montorsi’s conduct was less about hindering the government’s investigation and more about obeying and protecting her ailing husband,” her attorneys wrote.

Beeson said that Kennedy Mint was placed on probation for two years, but the company is in the process of closing.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

  • oldruss

    Covering up for this deliberate and eggregious damage caused to the Rocky River by dumping the cyanide down the storm drain ought to have gotten Teresina Montorsi some jail time. She actively obstructed the federal investigators, and did so on more than one occasion, and then using her allegedly “ailing husband” as an excuse for her criminal actions makes it all the worse.

  • Sean Nichols

    wow, both of them need locked up. Although they’re to old for community service, they’re not to old to be punished. All assets should be stripped from the family and comapny. Cyanide has biological affects on humans; aren’t we standing against biological terrorists as we speak?. The remaining life of anyone aware of this dumping should be miserable.

  • ekwaykway

    What are ya gonna do with a couple old codgers? I mean really? Sentence them to Florida?

  • jz

    The reporter could have informed us of what the company does. Kennedy Mint. Journalism 101.