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June 15, 2014

Coakley investigating alleged salvaging at mill

LAWRENCE - Attorney General Martha Coakley is investigating a report that the former city cop who owns the Merrimac Paper mill is continuing to salvage valuables from the property despite a court order freezing his assets.

The owner, David Padellaro, could not be reached Friday.

His lawyer, Jim Bowers, said he also has been unable to reach Padellaro to discuss the allegation but said he suspected it arose out of a weekend project at the mill that complied with the court order and was approved by the state.

Bowers said Padellaro last weekend emptied a leased trailer where he stored tools, ladders and other equipment so that he could return the trailer to its owner, Aran Trading of Salisbury. He said inspectors with the state Department of Environmental Protection examined the contents of the trailer before it was emptied to ensure that they were free of asbestos, a carcinogen formerly used in building materials that is widespread on the property.

Joseph Ferson, a spokesman for the DEP, referred a question about the work to Coakley’s office.

Jillian Fennimore, a spokesperson for Coakley, said only that her office is investigating the allegation that Padellaro is continuing the salvaging operation he began after buying the mill for $1 in 2010. She referred a question about whether the DEP approved the weekend project back to the DEP.

Earlier this year, state Superior Court Judge Bonnie MacLeod ordered Padellaro to stop removing pipes, turbines, transformers, metals, pumps and other valuables from the historic 134-year-old mill complex and to stop any demolition on the three-acre site until first submitting a plan to the DEP for safely removing the asbestos and other contaminants.

MacLeod also froze all of Padellaro’s financial assets, including his bank accounts, home and the mill, to ensure he contributes whatever he has to the cleanup cost.

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