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CLEVELAND -- Cleveland-based Kelly Plating Company pleaded guilty to making illegal discharges with high concentrations of metals such as chrome and zinc into the sewer system, which in turn, after treatment, discharges to Lake Erie, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

The company pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act and one count of violating an approved pre-treatment program.

An employee at Kelly Plating bypassed the pollution control equipment and discharged partially treated wastewater and sludge directly into the sewer system. These discharges contained high concentrations of chrome and zinc. This happened at least 14 times between March and May, 2012, according to court documents.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, both parties agree to recommend to the court that Kelly Plating pay a $50,000 fine as well as a $25,000 community service payment.

The community service payment will be made to a charitable organization to be presented to the court prior to sentencing. The charitable organization will use the payment to improve water quality in Northeast Ohio, according to the plea agreement.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 11.

Criminal charges remain pending against a Kelly Plating employee who was indicted earlier this year.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Beeson following an investigation by the Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

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