The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle has a new owner.
Former owner Larry Eckert, of Bethel-Eckert Enterprise, sold the Collinsville landmark and the surrounding warehouse property to Franklin “Al” Bieri, owner of Mississippi River Construction Co., located at 201 Scott Troy Road, O’Fallon.
“I’ve got a trivia question for you: Who owns the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle?” Bieri said Thursday. “I do.”
In 2013, Bieri was sentenced in federal court to five months imprisonment, three months of home confinement and three years of supervised release for improper handling of asbestos at another property he owned, according to a May 2013 statement from U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton’s Office.
Eckert said he was not aware of Bieri’s past.
“He had the money; I sold it to him,” Eckert said. “I didn’t check his background.”
The Catsup Bottle went on sale in July at an asking price of $200,000. The warehouse was listed at $300,000.
The 170-foot former water tower is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bieri purchased the Emerson Electric Facility in Washington Park in order to demolish and salvage the buildings at the site. Knowing that the buildings contained asbestos, Wigginton’s office said, Bieri used untrained workers who failed to use proper removal and disposal procedures.
The workers did not wet the asbestos to limit airborne emissions or properly label the waste to alert others to the danger.
Bieri was sentenced for violating the Clean Air Act. In addition to the eight-month sentence, the court also ordered Bieri to pay a fine of $3,000 and a special assessment of $100.
“This well-heeled businessman tried to save a few bucks by sending in untrained and improperly protected people, then had them dispose of this dangerous material improperly, exposing unsuspecting landfill workers,” Wigginton said in the 2013 statement. “This conduct is breathtaking, literally. This jail sentence should demonstrate that no one is above the law, and my office will continue to aggressively pursue those who threaten the environment and public safety.”
Bieri declined to comment on the sentencing.
“If you want to talk about criminal history, we’ve got nothing to talk about,” Bieri said.
Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes