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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 15, 2010

Businessman found guilty of mishandling hazardous waste

Advertiser Staff

Honolulu businessman Stephen Swift has been found guilty in federal court of transporting hazardous material without a manifest and storing hazardous waste without a permit.

A jury returned the guilty verdicts against Swift, 55, on Monday. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 2 by U.S. District Judge David Ezra.

U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni said evidence presented during the trial showed that a 55-gallon drum of tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene or "perc," was accidentally punctured at Martin Warehousing and Storage on Sand Island on Aug. 14, 2001.

The chemical is commonly used by dry cleaners.

Nakakuni said an environmental cleanup company cleaned up the site, resulting in hazardous waste material that required proper disposal.

However, Jerome Anches, president and owner of Martin Warehousing, did not want to pay to have the hazardous waste shipped to the Mainland for disposal, she said. Instead, the waste material sat in an unused Matson container on the company's property until February 2005 when the site was sold.

Nakakuni said the new owner wanted the property cleared, and Anches hired Swift to transport the hazardous waste in the Matson container to the Mainland for proper disposal.

She said Swift moved the hazardous waste to his property in Wai'anae, where it sat in the unlocked container until May 2008.

Following the Environmental Protection Agency's discovery of the hazardous waste, it was packed and transported to the Mainland for disposal.

Anches, 70, was fined $300,000 and sentenced to five years' probation in February. He also was ordered to reimburse the EPA $84,000 for its cleanup costs.

Swift faces a maximum prison sentence of two years on each of the two transportation counts and five years on the single storage count, in addition to a potential fine of $50,000 for each day the hazardous waste was stored on his property.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall Silverberg prosecuted the cases against Anches and Swift.