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Mohawk man charged in GM dig released from jail

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MASSENA — A man charged Thursday with digging up a 12-acre capped landfill where PCB-laden sludge and other solid industrial waste was buried was released from custody Monday after posting $5,000 bail.

Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow had reduced the bail for Larry V. Thompson, 56, Raquette Point, from $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond to $5,000 cash or $10,000 following a preliminary hearing Monday afternoon in Massena Town Court. Mr. Thompson uses his traditional Mohawk name of Kanietakeron.

After listening to testimony from a state police investigator and two managers working at the former General Motors Powertrain site, Judge Sharlow ruled enough evidence had been presented to hold the case over for grand jury action.

Preliminary hearings are held to determine if a felony has been committed and to determine if there is enough evidence to believe the person charged committed that crime.

St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney James L. Monroe called three people to the stand during the preliminary hearing.

Investigator Andrew S. Gayeskie of the state police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation said he was called to the former GM plant site at about 11 a.m. Thursday.

The investigator said when he first arrived at the site he observed Mr. Thompson operating a backhoe and digging into a contaminated soil site.

“He was dumping the contaminated soil and spreading it around, making several smaller piles,” he testified in front of a courtroom packed with Mr. Thompson’s supporters, some wearing traditional Mohawk ribbon shirts.

The 12-acre landfill, adjacent to property owned by Mr. Thompson and his wife, Dana Leigh, on Raquette Point in Akwesasne, was listed as one of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund sites in 1984.

Mr. Gayeskie said the digging continued for about two hours and said at one point Mr. Thompson dumped a pile of the contaminated soil at the feet of six troopers that had set up a perimeter on the former GM site.

David W. Grant, site manager for RACER Trust, said contractors on site had noticed suspicious activity on the embankment off Route 37 Thursday. He said he received another report that a perimeter fence had been breached and a backhoe operator had dumped a load of soil into a rail car.

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