EAST CLEVELAND, OH – Witnesses are starting to receive notices from Ohio Attorney General Richard Michael DeWine to appear in the civil trial next year of George Michael Riley and Christine Beynon for operating an illegal construction and demolition debris dump in a densely-populated urban neighborhood and behind residential homes.
The trial is scheduled for June 24, 2019 in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and has been assigned to Judge Sean Gallagher. DeWine wants Riley and Beynon to pay $10,000 a day in fines for every day they were in violation of state laws that prohibitted illegal dumping. EJBNEWS obtained a copy of the letter DeWine’s office is sending to potential witnesses.
The dump once located at 1705 Noble Road by Beynon and Riley’s “Arco Recyling, Inc.” accepted more than 200,000 cubic yards of deadly construction and debris that created highly-cancerous conditions on property and in a neighborhood that had already been contaminated by General Electric using it to manufacture lighting.
A General Electric official told EJBNEWS two years ago that the global corporation knew its light manufacturing had already contaminated the property and surrounding area with poisonous mercury; but would not readily-accept responsibility for its “cradle to the grave” requirements under the federal Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) without a plaintiff taking it to court.
Recalled ex-Mayor Gary Norton, Council President Thomas Wheeler and current Mayor Brandon King rigged the ordinance enactment process laws found in Title 7, East Cleveland’s charter, ordinances, and councils rules to deliver the GE site to Riley in 2014.
Norton, Wheeler and King pushed council to pass Resolution No. 11-14 delivering the property to Ohio Rock, LLC for $125,000 as an emergency. The money, according to Norton and the councilmen, was supposed to be used for payroll. Riley and Beynon were instructed by the resolution to get the property ready for re-development. There was no mention of or authorization for them to open a recycling facility or a construction and demolition debris landfill.
While DeWine’s claim against Riley reads that the “city” transferred the title of the property to 1705 Noble Road Properties, LLC on May 1, 2014; the $10 title transfer was made by Norton in violation of the landbank ordinance without a resolution or council approval. Landbank properties must remain in the city’s name for two years until the intent of the resolution is fulfilled or else it reverts back to the city. Council controls a city’s property. Not the mayor.
Norton’s decision to secretly transfer the property to another corporation Riley controlled that was not named in the resolution reinforces allegations that he and Riley had a separate “cash” deal with each other.
Norton’s former girlfriend, “Nikki,” previously told EJBNEWS he delivered her $700 week cash on his $40,000 salary with a wife and three daughters. Norton’s wife, Shalom Lawrence-Norton, was granted a dissolution of their marriage in September.
Norton and Riley’s criminal acts of deception voided the resolution and automatically reversed ownership iof the Noble Road property back to the city. But King, who became mayor after Norton’s recall in December 2015, took no steps to close the dump, enforce the resolution that instructed Riley and Beynon to redevelop the property or to have the ex-mayor’s illegal acts investigated and prosecuted.
Noble Road resident Harry Drummond, whose wife, children and grandchildren breathed in the deadly toxins the dump spewed into the air for nearly 4 years, told EJBNEWS he saw King enter and leave the trailer where Riley operated his office after residents complained. King publicly-announced after his quick meeting with Riley that the dump was legal and safe.
U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge reached out to Ohio EPA director Craig Butler in 2015 and was told in writing by Governor John Kasich’s appointee that the illegal dump he’d authorized to open was asbestos-free.
Butler’s lie to a member of Congress contradicted information on the U.S. EPA’s website that construction and demolition debris landfills should never be opened in residential neighborhoods; and that they naturally created environmental conditions that caused cancer in humans.
Former East Cleveland Mayor Eric Jonathan Brewer sought the help of industrial hygienist Jim Riffle of Auburn Environmental in December 2016 who volunteered to conduct tests of Drummond’s home. Riffle produced a report the following month that Brewer shared via phone message to Butler’s office on Rev. Martin Luther King’s January 17, 2017 federal birthday holiday.
Butler assigned Kurt Princic to return Brewer’s call after learning by message that his “no asbsetos” lie to Fudge had been exposed. Butler knew Riffle’s tests were conducted by ALS Global Environmental. He decided that day to order Arco’s Riley and Beynon to close the illegal facility.
Five months later in May the Cuyahoga County Board of Health declared the site a nuisance and sought funds to clean it up.
The county health board declared that Arco’s owners and complicit city officials forced suffering on the Noble Road and surrounding residents.