Cuffs and Collars – February 24th, 2012
Northern District highlights
While on patrol in the town of Verona, ECO Vernon Fonda observed a large cloud of smoke coming from behind a residence. After meeting the homeowner, the two walked to the back of the residence to where a recliner was burning under some branches. On the way back to Fonda’s vehicle, he observed a Great Dane that didn’t want to come out of his dog house. When he looked more closely, it was because almost the entire bottom of the kennel was covered with feces. The animal also did not have any food or water and appeared to have several infections on its coat. The homeowner was given summonses for the open burning violations and failing to provide proper sustenance for the animal, both misdemeanors, answerable to the town of Verona Court. The dog, after being examined, needed to be euthanized.
On Dec. 1 while patrolling for deer hunters, ECO Toni Dragotta observed a company working with heavy equipment in Wyncoop Creek, a protected stream in the town of Chemung. Information gathered by Dragotta determined the Chemung County Department of Public Works had a permit for the project that was being completed by the company involved. No permit was posted, no notice of commencement had been sent, no erosion control was in place, and work in the stream was not to occur between Oct. 1 and May 15. The stream was muddy due to the activities. Dragotta directed the company to stop work until calls could be made to determine why the work was being done during the “no work” period and with no erosion control measures in place. It was determined that no permission had been given to work during the “no work” period and the project was shut down until DEC’s Fisheries and Bureau of Habitat could visit the site. After several calls and meetings, a Consent Order was drafted. On Dec. 23 the Chemung County DPW and the contractor signed individual consent orders for the stream violation on Wyncoop Creek and also signed off and agreed to the conditions regulating the completion of the bridge replacement job. They each paid a $5,000 penalty.
Deer baiting case
As a result of aerial surveillance conducted by ECO Les Taylor, a search warrant was obtained for a property on Guide Board Road in the town of Black Brook. Even though no one was in the treestand, two large carrot piles and a salt lick were discovered with an adjacent treestand. During an interview with the property owner, he admitted to placing the carrots and salt lick and stated, “I knew the eye in the sky would catch up with me someday.” The suspect, Robert L. Tender, Sr., 66, of Black Brook, was charged with the illegal feeding of white-tailed deer and placing a salt lick for non-agriculture means.
On Dec. 11, ECO Ricardo Grisolini was patrolling the town of Marshall for big-game violations when he heard a gunshot at approximately 5 p.m. Grisolini, knowing that sunset was at 4:30, began to head westbound on Green Road where he believed he heard the shot. No sooner did he turn onto Green Road when he looked out into a field where he noticed an older gentleman on an ATV. As Grisolini stopped the vehicle, he witnessed the man raise a long gun and fire one round into a small wooded area. Grisolini immediately exited the vehicle and approached the man and told him to lower the firearm and exit the ATV. The individual exited the ATV and handed the officer a Featherlite 16 gauge shotgun and a CVA Optima .50 caliber muzzleloader that was on the rack of the ATV. Both firearms were loaded. ECO Steven Lakeman then arrived on scene. As Grisolini began to collect evidence, Lakeman questioned the suspect, who said he was shooting into the woods to scare deer from his location to an area across Brothertown Road where he had a hunter on stand. Deputy Lindfield with the Oneida County sheriff’s department also arrived on scene and checked the firearms and ATV. After Grisolini collected the spent 16 gauge shells he did a DECALS check on the individual and determined he didn’t have the bow/muzz license privilege. The suspect was ticketed for hunting after hours, two counts of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, hunting without a license, unregistered and uninsured ATV, and operating an ATV without a helmet. He was to answer the citations in town of Marshall court.
Failure to check traps
(St. Lawrence County)
ECO Bret Canary located a muskrat in a trap owned by a local trapper well known to the officer. Canary took the muskrat and clipped off one of the middle toes on the right foot to make for easier identification for a compliance check after 48 hours (the amount of time required to check a trap after setting). Canary was unable to get back to the location until over a week later. When the ECO returned, the muskrat was still in the trap and starting to rot. Canary verified it was the same rat and removed the trap and about five other traps in the area belonging to the same subject. Canary made contact with the subject, who stated he was on his way there to get the traps that day, once Canary told him he had watched the traps for over a week. The trapper admitted that he had not been there in almost two weeks. He received a ticket for failure to check his traps within 48 hours.
On Dec. 13, a Denmark, N.Y., man was charged with numerous violations of the Environmental Conservation Law. The charges stem from an investigation conducted by ECO Fay Fuerch and Lt. Todd Richards into the posting of two bucks on the popular website Newzjunky.com, in the “Deer of the Day” section. During the course of the investigation, the suspect admitted to shooting both bucks during the regular season. Additionally, the first buck, an 8-point, was taken before the defendant had purchased his hunting license. A couple of weeks later, the suspect shot an 11-point buck and used his brother’s regular-season tag in an attempt to pass the buck off as if it was taken legally. He was issued a total of six tickets for the following charges: two counts of misdemeanor illegal taking of wild white-tailed deer, one misdemeanor count of taking big game in excess of bag limits, one violation of hunting big game without a license, one violation of possessing tags of another and one violation of failure to comply with a lawful order. His brother was also charged with the violation of lending carcass tags to another person in connection with the taking of the second buck. Both sets of antlers and all of the meat were seized as evidence and both defendants were scheduled to appear in the town of Denmark court at a later date.
Fatal shooting incident
On Oct. 23, Region 6 ECOs and investigators, in cooperation with Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, investigated a fatal hunting-related shooting incident in which one individual was killed. The shooter was charged by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department with second-degree manslaughter and remanded to Lewis County Jail on $15,000 cash bail or $30,000 bond. Pending Environmental Conservation Law violations against the shooter include: hunting deer with rimfire ammunition; hunting big game during closed hours (after sunset); and hunting big game without a valid license. Two other members of the hunting party have each been charged with hunting big game after sunset and hunting big game without a valid license. Their charges were answerable in Town of Denmark Court.
Dog shooting, and illegal doe
While patrolling Cameron State Forest during the late muzzleloader season, ECO Dave Hulett came across a group of coyote hunters who reported that one of their dogs had just been shot with buckshot. While two of the hunters took to the woods to see if they could locate any evidence in the area where they had heard the shot, Hulett began a search of other parking areas and roadways around the state forest and to check a hunting camp that adjoins the state land in the area where the dog was believed to have been shot. Arriving at the deer camp, the lone occupant was questioned regarding hunting earlier in the day. The camp owner had not been hunting that day and was closing up camp. He had a muzzleloading firearm only, so he wasn’t considered a suspect. The camp owner did mention speaking to a hunter who mentioned hearing shots in the area of the dog shooting and told Hulett where he could find the man. Hulett knew this man and, in fact, had seen him drive by earlier. He soon found the subject in woods adjoining the road on his own property. The man was investigating a shot he had heard earlier and showed the officer that a deer had been shot on his property and dragged off. It was obvious to both men the deer had been shot from the road. While sorting out the evidence for this case, a number of ATVs were seen traveling up the road. Hulett followed the group and confronted them as they stopped on another plot of state land. Hulett, having nothing to lose, asked, “Who shot the deer earlier today?” One of the group spoke up, “I did.” Hulett told the shooter he wanted him to accompany him back to their camp to inspect the deer and tags. While driving to the camp, the ECO drove by the location where the deer had been shot from the road, stopped and showed the hunter the evidence of the illegal taking. The man lowered his head and said, “I ain’t gonna lie to ya, I did it.” He then went on to explain how he had seen the deer while going up the road on his ATV, and shot from the ATV while it was still on the roadway. The suspect, an Oswego resident, was charged with trespassing, possessing a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public highway and the unlawful killing of the antlerless deer. He was to appear in the town of Cameron Court. The deer was seized at the camp and donated to the Venison Donation Coalition. The dog shooting investigation is continuing.
Illegal solid waste burning
On Dec. 16 while on patrol for deer hunting violations, ECO Jeff Dempster and Lt. Chris Ruckert noticed a plume of dark smoke coming from the area of County Route 61 near State Route 22 in the town of Jackson. When they arrived, they found a pile of debris about 20 feet in diameter that was burning. In the fire was an old camping trailer with the tires attached, treated wood, aerosol cans and other debris. Attending the fire was a man who said that he was just burning some old wood. He also told the officers it was his family’s property, he was a local volunteer fireman and that he had called Washington County to let them know he was having a controlled burn. The local fire department was dispatched to extinguish the fire. The suspect was ticketed for violations of unlawful disposal of solid waste and burning in an open fire of unpermitted material. The case was pending in the town of Jackson Court.
Arrest warrant search
On Dec. 6, ECOs Brian Wade and Chris Ward executed an arrest warrant for a subject named in the town of Geneseo. This brought to conclusion the search for the man, who had run from Wade on Oct. 8 in the town of Granger, Allegany County. Wade thought he was making a routine traffic stop and hunting check when the vehicle he attempted to stop failed to comply when Wade activated his emergency lights. The suspect, who was driving on a revoked license, ran through several stop signs and operated recklessly. It turned out he was coming from a local bar where he had been in a fight. His opponent in the fight suffered a severely broken leg. The vehicle being operated by the suspect was able to get away and a follow-up investigation by Wade led to charges being filed in the town of Granger against the suspect. He was charged with unlawful fleeing of a police officer, obstructing governmental administration and multiple vehicle and traffic law violations. He was remanded to the Allegany County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
Southern District highlights
What oil delivery?
On Nov. 23, 2011, ECO Brian Toth received a call regarding a fuel spill in Mamaroneck and patrolled to the residential location. Westchester County police and Westchester County Department of Health personnel were on the scene investigating the spill. It was determined that a home heating oil delivery had been made to the house. The driver had overfilled the tank in the basement and blown the oil level gauge off the tank. There was oil spilled across the floor in the basement, as well as on the sidewalk in front of the house. The driver had left without reporting any spill. A spill cleanup was started and the owner of the heating oil company was called. He arrived and stated that there had been no delivery to that address. An occupant of the home and their next-door neighbor stated they had seen the oil company truck making the delivery. Later that week, Toth and the investigator visited the oil company garage and spoke with the owner. Toth issued summonses for failure to report spill of liquid stored in bulk and disposal of noxious substance in a stream or sewer. A total of four citations were issued to the company.