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Guide pays $14 million for pollution

Guide Corp., the big lighting supplier that has grappled with management turmoil and financial difficulty, also is trying to put an environmental black mark behind it.

The company just paid $4 million in fines after entering a guilty plea last month to criminal charges that it violated federal clean water laws.

The company was placed on probation for five years.

The criminal sentence comes on top of $10 million Guide agreed to pay this year.

The payments included $6 million for restoration of the White River near Guide's Anderson, Ind., plant, $2 million in restitution and $2 million in civil penalties.

The EPA and Department of Justice said discharges of toxic wastewater from the plant, over a period of weeks two years ago, contaminated a 40-mile stretch of the river.

The contamination led to one of the biggest fish kills in Indiana history. Waste from metal plating operations was discharged.

The company said in a statement that the settlements would allow Guide and its employees to focus on the future.

Company spokesman Jeff Hutson added last week, "We are committed today and in the future to be a company with great respect for the environment."

He said he did not know to what extent, if any, Guide's troubles contributed to the toxic dumping.

The company is the former lighting division of General Motors.

GM sold the business in 1998 to Palladium Equity Partners LLC.

The newly independent company was led first by Michael Hammes and then by former Chrysler Corp. executive Dennis Pawley.

But Pawley quit last year, indicating that Guide was being starved for cash by its owner, Palladium, and its chief customer, GM.

Palladium in turn sold the business this year to Vehicle Lighting Inc., a new company created by turnaround specialist B.N. Bahadur.

The new Vehicle Lighting president and CEO is Dennis Hiller.

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