Four top officials of Plato Products, a metal-plating firm, have pleaded not guilty in Citrus Municipal Court to 20 misdemeanor counts of dumping excess amounts of toxic material into county sewers in violation of several county and federal waste water laws.
The four Plato officials--George Kent, president; William Eldred, vice president; Arch Chieves, production manager; and Steve Curtis, plating supervisor--face a pretrial hearing June 6. If convicted, they could receive a maximum $1,000 fine and six months in jail for each of the counts filed by the county district attorney's office.
For more than a year, Plato Products has been under scrutiny from parents of students at an elementary school next door. Parents want the company to discontinue operations because they fear that toxic emissions might endanger their children. Tests by the Air Quality Management District and the county Health Services Department found no evidence that toxic fumes were being emitted from the plant, which has continued operation.