Florida Company Charged With Hazardous Waste Crimes

Oklahoma City- On September 9, 2004, M.B.E., Inc., a bridge-painting contractor based in Holiday, Florida, was charged in Oklahoma County District Court with three counts of Unlawful Transportation of Hazardous Waste, one count of Unlawful Waste Management, and one count of Unlawful Disposal of Hazardous Waste. Also charged were Tony Gialousis, an employee and former Vice-President of M.B.E., Inc., and Manuel Gialousis, an employee and former Secretary of M.B.E., Inc.

The charges stem from an investigation into a contract M.B.E. held with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation in 2001 to sandblast and repaint the bridge on NW 23 rd Street over I-44.

“The filing of these charges is the culmination of almost three years of work by a number of state and federal investigators that has resulted in criminal charges being filed against three different bridge-painting contractors in six different jurisdictions,” says Michael Freeman, Sr. Criminal Investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. “By working together in this manner we've clamped down on some serious violations that were rampant within the industry.”

Many Oklahoma bridges were historically painted with lead-based paint. The sandblasting of these bridges results in the generation of a regulated hazardous waste, due to the high concentration of lead. Hazardous waste may only be transported by a registered hauler, may only be stored at the generation site or a site that holds a special permit, and may only be disposed at a properly permitted disposal facility.

In an affidavit filed in district court, it is alleged that Tony and Manuel Gialousis transported over nine (9) tons of lead-contaminated hazardous waste from the project site to a illegal storage site several miles away, without using a hazardous waste manifest as required by state and federal law. The affidavit also alleges that M.B.E., Inc. later dumped a large quantity of this hazardous waste into a ravine located near the illegal storage site.

If convicted on the charges, Tony and Manuel Gialousis could face up to twenty-five years in prison and criminal fines of $300,000. M.B.E., Inc. could also face criminal fines of $300,000.

On June 7, 2004, M.B.E., Inc. and its president, Fani Gialousis were charged in McClain County District Court with six felony counts of filing a fraudulent document, and M.B.E., Inc. and Tony Gialousis were charged with Unlawful Transportation of Hazardous Waste and Unlawful Waste Management, in connection with two bridge painting projects in McClain County.

On August 25, M.B.E. was charged in Cimarron County with one count of Unlawful Transportation of Hazardous Waste and two counts of Unlawful Waste Management. Tony and Manuel Gialousis were charged as well.

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