NY: Cuffs and Collars Issue: 23
Northern District Highlights
How about another warning?
On July 19, ECO Eric Templeton responded to a residence in the Town
of Conklin to investigate an open burning complaint referral from
the Broome County Health Department. While attempting to make
contact with someone at the residence, an outdoor fireplace with a
small pile of painted wood in it and a small hibachi grill with
burned pressure treated wood, foil and wire were found. A business
card was left in the mailbox and shortly after leaving, Templeton
received a call from the homeowner and informed him of the
complaint referred from the health department. The homeowner
quickly replied, “Well, my neighbor better mind her own business
from now on.” Templeton then explained that what he had found being
burned there was, in fact, illegal under the current burning
regulations and was a violation regardless of who the complainant
was. The homeowner said, “You’re right, I won’t burn anymore.” He
also mentioned that ECO Kenric Warner had been there before when he
was burning in a barrel and had spoken to him about it. Templeton
found the prior complaint in the system, which was from May of 2010
and was also a referral from the health department reported by the
same complainant. Similar items were found being burned and the
homeowner was advised of the burning regulations and had stated
that he would cease from any further burning at that time.
An unlawful open burning charge is currently pending.
On Aug. 21, Cayuga County ECO Mark Colesante received a call from a
man who caught two guys stealing ginseng on his posted property. He
was checking his ginseng plants 10 days before the Sept. 1 season
opener when he found the men lying in a ditch with two freshly
pulled ginseng plants. He got the men to show him their IDs and
they gave him the roots they had pulled.
Colesante met up with the complainant and he handed Colesante the
10 ginseng roots that the two men pulled. Two of the roots still
had the plants attached. Colesante noticed the plants were both
immature because they didn’t have enough leaves to legally harvest.
When Colesante tracked down the two suspected ginseng thieves, they
both admitted to taking ginseng out of season both from private
property and from state land. They even admitted that they were
going to sell the ginseng roots, which can go for up to $700 per
pound. After taking statements, Colesante issued the men tickets
for taking ginseng out of season, harvesting immature ginseng
plants, removing plants from state land, and trespass. The tickets
were pending in Sempronius town court.
Tire burner pleads guilty
On March 15, ECO Mark Wojtkowiak charged a 35-year-old Clarksville
man with unlawfully disposing of tires by burning, a violation of
New York’s solid waste and air quality regulations. He ordered the
defendant to remove the remaining estimated 100 waste tires from
his property and dispose of them at an authorized facility. On May
9, Wojtkowiak charged the same defendant again with trespass and
unlawfully disposing of more than 10 cubic yards of solid waste (a
class B misdemeanor) when he learned the subject dumped all of the
tires on his neighbor’s property.
Early on in the investigation, it was discovered the defendant and
his family considered themselves to be “Sovereign Citizens,” going
as far as having “International” registration plates on one of
their vehicles and claiming they did not recognize the officer’s
authority, or that of the court, New York State or the President of
the United States. On one court date, the father of the defendant
was physically removed from court by Wojtkowiak and ECO Russell
Calanni at the order of the town justice after the man continued to
interrupt proceedings and disrespect the court, prosecutor and the
DEC officers, claiming them to all be “communists.” On Aug. 17, and
after much grandstanding from the defendant and his family, the
defendant pleaded guilty to the original violation, paying a $1,500
fine, 6 percent surcharge, and agreeing to remove the tires to an
authorized facility and supplying disposal receipts to the court.
The other charges were covered in the plea deal.
‘Nuisance’ 10-point buck
On the morning of July 18, ECO Mark Colesante received a call from
John VanNest, a local butcher/taxidermist and owner of Windy Hill
in the Town of Scipio. He asked Colesante if someone could shoot a
buck on a nuisance permit. Colesante answered “no,” and Mr. VanNest
said, “Well, I’m looking at a 10-point in velvet that would have
been a 150 class buck.” A Union Springs man had brought in the buck
that morning to be butchered and he wanted to keep the antlers. The
10-point buck was surprisingly tagged with a nuisance permit.
Colesante called the DEC wildlife office in Cortland and they sent
him an electronic copy of the nuisance permit. The permit for three
antlerless deer was given to a new vineyard in the Town of
Springport. Colesante and ECO Scott Sincebaugh stopped at Windy
Hill to look at the buck. They took the nuisance tag and replaced
it with an evidence tag.
That evening, the ECOs stopped to interview the man, who was listed
as the taker on the nuisance tag. He admitted to shooting the buck,
claiming he didn’t know the permit was for antlerless deer only.
Upon further investigation, it was determined the deer was not shot
or killed on the property the permit was issued for, and it was
shot well within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling. Colesante issued
the man tickets for taking a deer during the closed season and
violating the terms and conditions of the nuisance permit. The
following day, Sincebaugh followed up with the property owner that
the nuisance permit was issued to. He was also issued a ticket for
violating the terms and conditions of the nuisance permit.
Colesante contacted the wildlife office in Cortland and they
immediately sent out a revocation letter to the permit holder. The
deer was given to the venison donation program.
The wife knows best
On July 22, ECO James Kerns was conducting boat patrol on the
Fulton Chain of Lakes. While checking fishermen, recreational
boaters and occasional personal watercraft, Kerns worked his way
over to the Old Forge Pond area at the lower end of the Fulton
Chain. At that point, he turned back and headed for his launch
site. Shortly after leaving the Old Forge Pond area, Kerns spotted
a man fly-fishing in the channel along the shallow side of the bay.
The fisherman was in a sit-on-top style kayak and had a double haul
cast in progress with the lime green luminescent fly line clearly
visible. The fisherman concluded a perfect cast and his fly landed
in the middle of a patch of lily pads.
Kerns decided to check the fisherman and started to slowly enter
the bay. The fisherman saw Kerns as he approached. As Kerns
approached the fisherman, he asked, “How‘s the fishing?” The
fisherman replied, “Lousy. I haven’t caught anything all week!
Where are all the fish?” Kerns asked the fisherman to hold up his
fishing license. The fisherman stated that his license was in his
truck, which was parked back at his camp. Kerns followed the
fisherman back to his camp, which was only 50 feet away. When they
arrived at the camp, the fisherman stated he only had a fishing
license for the state of Pennsylvania. Kerns asked the fisherman
why he didn’t purchase a New York license. The fisherman admitted
he did not think he was going to get checked and figured he could
get away with it. Kerns walked back to his boat and filled out a
ticket. Just as Kerns started to walk back to the fisherman to
issue him the ticket, the fisherman’s wife came out of the camp.
Kerns explained the situation to both the fisherman and his wife.
Kerns explained the Interstate Violators Compact and noted that if
the fisherman failed to take care of the ticket, his Pennsylvania
fishing license would be subject to suspension. The fisherman
stated he would take care of the ticket and thanked Kerns. As Kerns
walked back to his boat he could hear the fisherman’s wife saying,
“I told you, you should have just bought the stupid license.”
What’s that smell?
(St. Lawrence County)
On Aug. 20, ECO Scott Atwood was on patrol in the Raquette River
Wild Forest when he observed a truck parked across the access road
in front of him. He observed a male subject outside of the vehicle
throwing something into the back end of the truck. When the male
subject saw the ECO, he jumped back into the vehicle and pulled the
truck out of the way. The ECO found this behavior suspicious and
stopped to question the subject. As the ECO exited his vehicle, the
male subject jumped out of the vehicle to “greet” him. As the ECO
was questioning the individual, he looked into the back of the
truck and observed a large bucket of crab apples which raised the
ECO’s suspicions even more. With continued questioning, the
individual started to become defensive and the ECO knew something
was wrong. As he continued to interview the subject, the ECO
observed a strong odor of marijuana on the subject’s breath. Upon
questioning, the individual admitted he recently smoked marijuana
but denied having any in the vehicle. The ECO patted down the
subject but was unable to locate any drugs. The subject’s
girlfriend was a passenger in the vehicle and the ECO began
questioning her while she was in the truck. The ECO observed a
strong odor of marijuana in the vehicle and she denied there were
any drugs in the truck. The girl was removed from the vehicle and
directed to empty her pockets. She began to hesitate and the ECO
knew she must have the marijuana in her possession. As the ECO
began patting down the girl’s exterior pockets, he felt what
appeared to be a baggie of marijuana and a pipe in her pocket. When
asked what it was, she replied “it is what you think it is.” A
baggie of marijuana, a pipe (still warm to the touch) and a lighter
were obtained from the girl. An appearance ticket for unlawful
possession of marijuana was issued and the subjects were released.
As a follow-up to this investigation, Atwood and ECO Joseph Munn
conducted a search of the area for possible bait piles after Atwood
observed the bucket of apples in the subject’s truck, and Munn had
observed two suspicious vehicles parked nearby a few days prior.
Upon conducting a search of the area, no bait was located but two
marijuana plants were recovered.
Log Bay Day detail
On July 25, ECO Shana Hutton was assigned to assist Region 5 ECOs
with Log Bay Day on Lake George. The weather conditions were not
the best, but the rain did not keep the boaters away from the
event. There were over 200 boats taking part in the Log Bay Day
event. ECOs enforced environmental conservation law, navigation
law, boating while intoxicated laws and assisted in public safety.
Thirty violations were issued, including four for
pollution/littering, five for underage possession of alcohol, three
for disorderly conduct and one for boating while intoxicated, and
others involving navigation law. The ECOs also rendered first aid
to six people, assisted with one disabled vessel, dealt with two
fights, one domestic incident and participated in three rescues for
unconscious individuals, and participated in one rescue involving a
cardiac arrest and drowning, in which the subject was rescued from
the water and revived by CPR and was then transported by boat to
the awaiting ambulance at the dock.
Southern District highlights
Bottle Bill detail
(New York County)
On Aug. 9, ECOs Dustin Dainack, Timothy Machnica and Brent Wilson
coordinated their efforts to work on multiple complaints of stores
that were failing to accept returnable containers for their
redeemable deposit of five cents each. Machnica worked in plain
clothes and attempted to return bottles at more than 10 locations
in Manhattan where ECOs had received complaints in the past.
Summonses were issued to four different grocery stores for “failure
to accept returnable containers” and “limiting the hours of
acceptance.” The store managers were informed and educated on the
Returnable Container Law. Two other supermarkets were also visited
due to complaints of failing to accept plastic bags for recycling.
The ECOs issued two written warnings for “failure to have no
plastic bag recycling bins” as required.
‘I can’t believe I’m being hassled…’
On Aug. 6, Lt. Martin Townley and ECO Michael Buckley responded to
an ongoing complaint of numerous problems at a DEC fishing access
site in Sparrow Bush, a popular site on the Delaware River. Large
piles of trash had been dumped on the property and litter
throughout the area had accumulated. There were also other
violations at the site as well. The ECOs sat in an unmarked patrol
vehicle and observed for a short period of time. The officers sat
and observed the violations and waited for the litterers to leave
before they were stopped, to ensure that the garbage was not going
to be retrieved. The ECOs were amused to find two separate people,
including an attorney, among two groups who were charged, actually
state that they were being “hassled for throwing garbage on a pile
of garbage.” They ultimately agreed their argument made no sense
when the officers pointed to the three “No Littering” signs, as
well as the large sign that read “No Dumping” in big red letters
above the pile of garbage they had thrown their own garbage on. In
addition to littering, there were other problems as well, including
open containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle, driving while
intoxicated and other violations of the regulations governing the
use of the fishing access site.
A number of tickets were written and the charges were pending in
local criminal court.