Frongillo to Parker: Liar, Plagiarizer
Bettacchi’s defense was in full force today as witnesses were called to demonstrate Grace’s complete transparency regarding the health risks of the Libby property that was sold or transferred after the closure of the mine.
The first witness of the morning, former Libby city attorney Mark Fennessey, testified to the environmental concerns the city had with property Grace donated to the city. While the city planned to use the property to attract industry to the area, the environmental concerns of asbestos contamination and diesel fuel spills raised red flags.
However, Fennessey testified that he, city council, and the mayor had been advised of the location of the hazards and the specific type of risks they threatened. In fact, the city acknowledged that it has been given sufficient opportunity to examine and assess the three subject areas that were at risk. Further, the city said it would assume full responsibility for the costs of operating, maintaining, and removing or remediating the three subject areas as may be required by law. However, Fennessey said Grace took further action to clean up the area, and even postponed closing on the property in order to mitigate potential risks.
On cross, Kris McLean brought out that while everyone was aware of the asbestos issues, not everyone was clear on the immediate health problems associated with the property. In fact, none of Grace’s disclosures spoke directly to the health problems of the property.
Then, Patrick O’Toole for Mr. Bettacchi called the next witness. Joseph Rogan, a former Grace controller, further testified to the donation of Grace property to the city of Libby. While the city would not agree to provide indemnity to Grace against third party claims or against currently unknown issues on the land, Rogan said Grace did not have any reason to believe that any further environmental issues would be identified in the future.
Finally, Frongillo called Melvin Parker back to the stand. What started as a professional exchange quickly escalated to a battle of divergent viewpoints with coarse words and harsh accusations. Frongillo’s main attack centered on the date of Parker’s awareness of the health risk of his property.
Frongillo pressed Parker about a conversation he had with Patrick Plantenberg who had worked for the state on the reclamation of the Grace property. Plantenberg had done an extensive analysis on the mine, and claimed to have supplied Parker with language that specifically warned Parker of the health risks associated with the property. However, Parker stood strong in claiming that he had never seen the analysis, and that he did not base any of his actions on the information contained within it.
To emphasize his point, Frongillo compared the language in Parker’s management plan with that of the environmental analysis Parker claimed to have never seen. He took Parker word for word through two paragraphs of the environmental analysis, and then compared it side by side to language from his own management plan. Frongillo started accusing Parker of plagiarizing the analysis, which would make it impossible for Parker to have never seen the document. Parker maintained, as he had testified before, that the language came from an independent source, and that Mr. Frongillo was welcome to investigate the language from that document if he liked.
Frongillo then launched his full-scale attack on Parker, claiming he lied and plagiarized to protect his own interests. “You care more about the money that is sitting in your pocket than you care about this criminal trial,” cried Frongillo. Frongillo then told Parker he had one more issue he needed Parker to resolve before he could go back to where he came from.
Over Parker’s objections, Frongillo attempted to corner Parker into saying he wanted to keep the vermiculite on the property. Parker resisted Frongillo’s advances by claiming that the vermiculite was no good to him unless it had already popped, and further stated that he had done Grace a favor by relieving them of their obligation to remove the material. Frongillo never quite got the words of surrender he was looking for, but he continued to press Parker further. Parker finally called the last shot when he told Frongillo that he was starting to sound like he was done.
Frustrated, Frongillo spouted, “You went forward with the deal with your eyes wide open,” and the morning was called for recess.
– Kathryn Mazurek (10:25 a.m.)