Concern raised over past of Chemworks president

MENOMONEE FALLS (WITI) -- Will the past come back to haunt the owner of a proposed wastewater treatment facility in Menomonee Falls? Residents opposed to the project are pointing to federal indictments almost 20 years ago against the man who is now the president of Chemworks -- a company that could be moving in to Menomonee Falls.

Chemworks cleans industrial waste. The company has made headlines in the past for environmental fines and foul odors at its existing Milwaukee plant.

Now, the company is looking to relocate close to a Menomonee Falls neighborhood, and residents aren't rolling out the welcome mat.

"We won`t stop until we stop them," Rachel Bettermann said.

Bettermann and her neighbor, Brad Posnanski have been fighting Chemworks since they found out the company is coming to the Falls.

They say the more they researched the company, the more their fears continued to grow.

"They have 30-some violations in the past several years," Posnanski said.

"When I first read it, it was absolutely shocking," Bettermann said.

According to published reports -- including one in the Philadelphia Daily News, a federal grand jury indicted six employees of a Pennsylvania company, BFI Services Group back in 1996. One of the managers at the time, Mike Malatesta, is the current president of Chemworks.

The group realized treatment plans charge more to process grease and sludge, as compared to raw sewage.

According to the published articles, the company would save money by delivering mixed materials -- and passing it off a sewage.

The alleged fraud generated more than a million dollars, and eventually attracted the attention of the FBI and EPA.

Federal court records show Malatesta entered into a plea agreement, serving two years probation and paying a $3,000 fine.

Malatesta declined to comment on camera. In a statement to FOX6 News, he explains he was just doing what he was told:

"I know that my participation in those practices was wrong, and I should have done something about it when I had the chance. Unfortunately I did not. I learned a valuable lesson through that experience that has stuck with me and helped me be very clear about right and wrong."

"We just don`t want to have the history - the repeated history here again," a Menomonee Falls resident said.

The site for the proposed Chemworks plant is zoned "heavy industrial," but now there are concerns Chemworks may not be a good fit.

A representative for the Village of Menomonee Falls says the company's "intended use" for the site is unclear.

The issue will be reviewed by the Plan Commission possibly as early as next week.

CLICK HERE to take a look at the 1996 article via the Philadelphia Daily News.