TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – The owner of Tonawanda Coke has died. J.D. Crane passed away June 28 at the age 92.
According to his obituary, Crane was born in Ontario, Canada in 1921 before moving to New York State as a child. He served in World War II and is survived by three children, two grand children, five great-grandchildren and his long-time companion. He lived in East Pembroke and passed away while traveling.
His company has made headlines for years as residents complained of illnesses. The plant and its environmental manager, Mark Kamholz, were named in a federal suit and later found guilty of 11 violations of the Clean Air Act and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Though Crane owned Tonawanda Coke he was not named in the suit. The company was ordered to pay $12.5 million, which is one of the largest fines every imposed criminally on a company. Kamholz was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for hiding problems from an inspector. He was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
Prosecutors proved the company reaped $50 million in profits during a five-year period when it was contaminating communities in Tonawanda and Grand Island with cancer causing benzene.