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Personal Finance Daily: Ex-oil company head sentenced for not reporting to prison for plant explosion conviction

The former president of a Montana oil processing company was sentenced to an extra day behind bars for repeatedly failing to show up to serve an earlier 18-month prison term stemming from a 2012 plant explosion that left two workers severely burned.

Peter Margiotta, 64, of Edmonton, Alberta, had been convicted in 2019 of conspiracy and violations of the Clean Air Act in the blast at the Custom Carbon Processing Inc. plant in Wibaux, Mont. A subsequent blaze took firefighters eight days to bring under control.

The plant had been set up to recycle “slop oil,” or oil that had been adulterated with other materials, and make it usable again. But prosecutors said the company illegally began using “drip gas,” a highly volatile natural gas condensate, in the process, eventually causing a massive explosion. Prosecutors alleged Margiotta had cut numerous safety corners, creating what they called a “140 barrel bomb.”


Prosecutors alleged Margiotta had cut numerous safety corners, creating what they called a “140 barrel bomb.”

Margiotta appealed his conviction and was sentenced in July 2020 to 18 months. He was allowed to surrender himself to federal prison in Seattle in September, but requested an extension because his 98-year-old mother had just died and he said he needed extra time to settle matters for her estate, according to court documents. The request was granted and he was ordered to surrender in November.

As that date approached, Margiotta requested another two-week extension, saying that business closures in Canada due to the Covid-19 pandemic made it harder for him to resolve his mother’s affairs, court records showed. It was also granted, but Margiotta would then ask for two more extensions, saying that he was undergoing testing for Covid-19 and had to quarantine.

The judge granted Margiotta a final deadline of Jan. 15, but Margiotta never showed up at prison, so a warrant was issued for his arrest. He eventually turned himself in to authorities in Montana in March.

As part of his sentencing agreement for failing to report to prison, Margiotta agreed to drop his appeal of his conviction for the explosion, according to the sentencing agreement. He was immediately detained following his plea agreement hearing on Tuesday.

A message left with Margiotta’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

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