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Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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New York Cuffs & Collars – July 13th, 2012

Southern District highlights

Solid waste dumping (Orange County)
On April 16, Lt. Martin Townley, with ECOs Jeff Conway and Mike Buckley, responded to an illegal construction and demolition debris site in the Town of Warwick. As the officers arrived, they decided to wait to see if any trucks would dump at the location and they did not have to wait more than two minutes as two large dump trucks pulled in to drop their load. The officers inspected the material and discovered what turned out to be a fairly large construction and demolition debris dump. As they worked, they soon observed that the neighboring property had received a large quantity of waste as well. Division of Solid Waste Engineer Steve Parisio responded to take samples and survey the situation. The site was estimated to contain 12,000 cubic yards of C&D waste. As Parisio continued to work at the first site with Conway, Townley and Buckley patrolled to the second location. The second property was estimated to hold 58,000 cubic yards of waste. As the investigation continued, a third dump site was located approximately half a mile up the road. A total of 13 charges were filed on eight individuals, including unlawful release of more than 70 cubic yards of solid waste and operating a C&D facility without a permit. The investigation is ongoing.

Illegal sewage discharge (Greene County)
On April 5, EnCon Police arrested a resident of Ardsley, Westchester County, for illegally disposing of sewage in the Hamlet of Leeds. After an investigation by Inv. Jesse Paluch of the DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation, the suspect was charged with one count of making a point source for the discharge of sewage into the waters of New York State without a permit. This violation of section 17-0701(1)(a) of the ECL is a Class E Felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $75,000 per day of violation. The charge alleges that the suspect pumped raw sewage from the septic tank attached to his three-unit rental property located in the Town of Leeds, into a nearby drain, which then flowed into the municipal storm water system located in the street in front of the property. Through surveillance and the execution of a search warrant, dye tests confirmed that the raw sewage was ultimately flowing into the Catskill Creek at the Leeds Stone Bridge, a distance of approximately one quarter mile from the rental property. The Catskill Creek is DEC-protected body of water, and classified as a Class B stream. The suspect was arraigned on the charge April 5 in the Town of Catskill Justice Court. He pleaded not guilty; bail was set at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. 

Earth Week pesticides detail (Nassau County)
On April 24, Lt. Tom Gadomski and Lt. Matt Blaising organized a cooperative pesticide detail with Zones 1 and 2 concentrating in the Town of North Hempstead. ECO Erik Dalecki and ECO Josh Wolgast, with help from each supervisor, conducted a total of 22 compliance checks throughout the day. Eleven violations were written for unregistered pesticides business, commercial application of pesticides without license, failure to display decals, failure to place warning markers and no HDDV emissions inspections. Each pesticides violation has a fine of up to $2,500 per offense, with the HDDV violation being up to $700.
Northern district highlights

‘My brother set the garbage on fire’ (Franklin County)
On the evening of April 18, ECO Jeffrey Hovey received a call from Ray Brook dispatch advising that the Town of Westville Volunteer Fire Department was requesting an ECO to assist with an illegal open burn. Hovey responded to Forest Brook Road in Westville and met with a member of the fire department. Hovey interviewed the tenant at the location of the open burn and she stated she did not know the identity of the individuals who had set the garbage on fire but that it was a male and female who left the location in a beige Chevrolet S-10 pick-up.
On the evening of April 19, Hovey received another phone call from Ray Brook dispatch advising that the Westville Volunteer Fire Department was requesting an ECO for enforcement action for another open burn at the same location on Forest Brook Road. Hovey was able to contact the property owner and he agreed to meet the officer at the location of the open burning complaint. The same pile of garbage had been set on fire once again and this time it caught a large pile of tree roots and stumps on fire. The property owner stated he had no knowledge of who had set the fire and the tenant was nowhere to be found. Hovey talked to the neighbors and they had not observed anyone starting the fire. Hovey received a supporting deposition from the property owner stating that he owned the property and he had no knowledge of who had started the fire. Hovey left the location and patrolled to an address listed on some charred mail he had found in the garbage pile. The property owner called Hovey less than 10 minutes later, advising he had found the garbage burning culprit. He stated his brother had dumped the garbage and set it on fire on both April 18 and 19. Hovey met with both subjects at their parent’s residence a few miles north of the location of the illegal burn. There was a beige S-10 pick-up parked in the driveway when Hovey arrived. The property owner was furious that his brother had set the garbage on fire and Hovey had to intervene several times in their argument to prevent a physical altercation. The younger brother was issued an appearance ticket for open burning of garbage returnable to the Town of Westville Court.

Unlawful tire disposal (Broome County)
In March, ECO McCormick received a complaint alleging that an individual in the Town of Colesville was removing vehicle tires from the rims for salvage and dumping the remaining tires over a steep bank. McCormick responded to the site of the complaint and found nearly 100 tires which had been dumped. McCormick proceeded to interview the suspect, who admitted to the dumping of the tires on property that didn’t belong to him. He issued the suspect a ticket for the unlawful disposal of solid waste.

Pesticide problems (Erie County)
On April 26 at 10 a.m., ECO Michael Phelps was assigned a complaint of an uncertified pesticide applicator applying pesticides to a commercial property on Sheridan Drive in the Town of Amherst. Phelps responded to the site and found a landscape and construction company crew on site applying Preen to the landscape beds then mulching over the treated areas.
Phelps interviewed the owner of the company, who said he is a certified pesticide technician and showed the ECO his certification card. He went on to say that he has not yet registered his business but has the paperwork and will register it soon.
Phelps then inspected the site and found Preen had been misapplied to paved surfaces, and the site was inadequately posted with the required warning signs. After interviewing workers, it was found that some of the workers had applied Preen at the direction of the company owner.
Phelps spoke to the company owner again and asked him if he ever had his workers apply pesticides, including Preen, at a job site. He said no. Phelps then told him his employees had stated otherwise. The suspect then said he had them apply fertilizer, but not pesticides, and maybe they were confused. He was then asked if he had a signed contract with the property owner where he was applying the pesticides and he said no. Phelps then told him that he could be written tickets for several violations, including operating an unregistered pesticide company, not having a contract signed by the property owner, untrained workers applying pesticides, misapplying a pesticide and inadequately marking areas that had been treated with a pesticide. In the end, he agreed to settle his violations by “Order on Consent Stipulation” for two violations – operating an unregistered pesticide application business and not having a signed contract with the property owner. He agreed to pay a $1,200 penalty and will not apply pesticides until he registers his business and can do so legally.

Gravel company fined (Chemung County)
In June of last year, the department received several complaints regarding the an Elmira gravel company failing to control fugitive dust at their mine site in the Town of Chemung. As a result, on several occasions Division of Minerals staff communicated their concerns to the company and requested corrections. The complaints continued so the case was referred to ECO Toni Dragotta. She addressed company officials about the complaints and requested their cooperation in mitigating the problem. The violations continued. On several occasions in October 2011 Dragotta documented the mud covering the public road that intersects the mine access road. In addition, a water truck was observed washing this dirt off the road. The water was carrying the sediment to a roadside ditch which was filled with sediment that had accumulated from previous watering/cleaning of the road. On Dec. 1, 2011, an inspection with DEC minerals staff was conducted at the mine site. A number of additional permit violations were documented, including mining outside the life of mine delineation. Material from the mine site had fallen down the bank into the federal wetland and sediment laden water was leaving the mine site through a break in the berm along the southern border and then accumulating in the adjacent wetland. By negotiated Consent Order, the company agreed to remediate the violations and pay a penalty of $4,000.

Fish and Wildlife

Just another fowl case (Oneida County)
On April 11 at 7 p.m., ECO Ricardo Grisolini was on patrol of the Fish Creek in the Town of Vienna when a call for possible illegal shooting of Canada geese came across Oneida County 911 dispatch. When he arrived, he was met by an individual who lived at the scene. He was questioned about the complaint and was nervous and fidgety.  When he was asked about any recent shooting, he claimed he was target practicing with his .32 caliber Winchester in his backyard. When asked as to whether or not there were any geese around when the shooting was taking place, he replied “maybe” and was visibly uncomfortable. Grisolini began to direct the questions toward the illegal shooting of a Canada goose at that time. The individual caved and admitted to shooting a Canada goose in his backyard. He then took Grisolini to where the goose was discarded. Grisolini photographed the carcass and collected evidence. The suspect showed the officer where he was standing when he shot the goose. It was determined that he was 325 feet from his neighbor’s residence. He was cited for shooting within 500 feet of a dwelling and the illegal taking of a Canada goose. He was arraigned on the charges on May 1 in the Town of Verona Court.

Nine deer in a truck (Clinton County)
On Dec 3, 2010, ECO Dan Malone was requested to assist New York State Police at a traffic stop in the Village of Rouses Point.  State police had stopped a Vermont operator for trailer light violations. In the process of the stop, the trooper noticed nine deer in the back of the pickup. The trooper asked some questions about the deer and felt he was not getting the right answers. Malone responded to the scene, thinking the nine deer were taken in New York’s Southern Zone. He arrived to find that the nine deer were all tagged with Pennsylvania tags. The operator of the pickup truck and his lone passenger were interviewed about the deer. The story they gave was questionable to Malone and the trooper. ECO Jeff Hovey arrived on the scene a short time later. A decision was made to move the pickup truck and trailer off the road to a parking lot where each deer could be examined and the tag recorded. Photos were taken of the deer. Malone contacted Vermont game wardens and Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officers. Investigator Ken Bruno was also contacted because Malone had questions about the interstate0 transport of deer. The information on the tags was provided to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The operator’s trailer was impounded by state police for equipment and registration violations and he was issued four traffic tickets. The operator was released and later paid the tickets and picked up his trailer. Malone contacted Pennsylvania WCO Rodney Mee and provided information on the deer and tags and the investigation began. Malone also contacted US Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agent Pat Bosco and Vermont Game Warden Carl Wedin about the incident.
In February 2011, Malone was contacted by Pa. WCO Rodney Mee, who advised him that his investigation had found several issues with the taking of the deer in Pennsylvania. Two of the deer were tagged by two convicted felons who cannot possess a weapon of any kind in Pennsylvania while hunting. Other deer were tagged by persons who were not hunting in Pa. at the time they were supposedly taken. Pennsylvania recently passed enhanced wildlife protection laws and regulations which may apply to this incident. Interviews took place in the St. Albans area of Vermont in early March 2011, with at least nine subjects, by a USFWS special agent and Pennsylvania game wardens to determine if there were Lacey Act violations.
On April 19, Mee, the Pa. WCO, contacted Malone by phone and asked if he and Hovey were available to travel to Pennsylvania for a trial on May 8 for this case. All persons involved in the investigation were charged by Mee with several Pennsylvania Game Commission violations involving the illegal taking, tagging and transportation of deer. Facing scheduled testimony of the New York ECOs, state police and the Vermont wardens, the eight defendants pleaded guilty to nine charges and were fined a total of $3,900 and had their hunting privileges revoked for one year.

Wildlife violations at Fort Drum (Jefferson County)
On April 6, ECO John Murphy received a call from Federal Game Warden James Howley concerning numerous wildlife violations on Fort Drum in the Town of Antwerp. Howley had stopped a vehicle with two individuals in it and discovered a loaded shotgun and rifle in the back seat of the pickup truck. Upon further investigation, under a tarp in the bed of the truck were four turkeys and two ducks. The individuals claimed they found the birds in the tarp along one of the roads in the range area. They would not change their story. Howley requested the ECO’s assistance. Murphy and ECO Tim Worden responded. When the ECOs arrived at the MP station, they learned that the subjects were both MPs with checkered histories. The officers looked over the evidence: four turkeys (three toms and one hen) and two mallards (a drake and a hen). The vehicle was littered with shotgun shells and 30.06 casings. Armed with this evidence, the ECOs interviewed the subjects and were able to garner full confessions. All the game was taken from the road, right out of the truck window. The subjects were each charged with possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public highway, taking wildlife with the aid of a motor vehicle, taking turkeys out of season and taking waterfowl out of season. One subject was additionally charged with hunting without a valid license. All charges were pending in Town of Antwerp Court.

Too many trout (Onondaga County)
On April 1, ECO Paul Sherman received an anonymous call reporting two subjects in possession of a large number of brook trout. The caller described the complaint location as the public access point on Fabius Brook in the Town of Fabius. The only description of the alleged offenders was that they were possibly driving a silver-colored Saturn. Sherman responded to the location on Fabius Brook and arrived within five minutes. A quick check of the area revealed that the subjects had left. The complainant called Sherman and notified him that the men had headed west toward the Town of Tully. Believing that the men likely were headed toward Interstate 81, Sherman attempted to intercept the vehicle and contacted Lt. David McShane, who was headed eastbound toward Tully. The vehicle was not found in transit, so McShane and Sherman continued to check additional routes and fishing access sites. McShane soon contacted Sherman and advised that he had located the vehicle on Bailey Road in Fabius and was watching the men. Both subjects were fishing at this new location and taking additional trout. McShane made contact with the subjects and found them to be in possession of 17 brook trout, with each of the men over the limit. Sherman arrived shortly, documented the violations and discovered additional driver’s license violations. The pair were issued citations for taking fish in excess of the daily limit. The cases were pending in the Town of Fabius Court.

Oneida Lake dredging (Madison County)
ECO Harry Chase recently investigated a case of a man operating a bulldozer in Oneida Lake in the Town of Lenox. The lake level was extremely low in the middle of April and the man had obtained a bulldozer and attempted to better his lakefront property, as well as his neighbor’s by taking the dozer out approximately 50 yards and dredging the sandy bottom back in toward the property lines. A large amount of lake bottom was dredged toward land, with the length of the work consisting of nearly 200 yards of shoreline. After several visits with the subject, along with Region 7 habitat programs personnel, the subject agreed to settle the case on a short form consent order for $4,000. He was advised to contact the department in the future before conducting work in the lake without a permit.

‘Honest, we didn’t catch anything, officer!’ (Erie County)
On April 7, a concerned fisherman had called ECO Jason Powers from a marina in Grand Island located next to the Holiday Inn. He called to report that a group of fishermen were keeping largemouth bass out of season and putting them in a duffle bag. The black bass season does not open until the third week in June and it was only early April. Powers informed the man that he was approximately 30 from the location but would do his best to arrive before the fishermen left for the day. Just prior to Powers’ arrival, the complainant had called again, informing him that he had left the location but the suspects were still there. He reported that one of the men had transferred the duffle bag to a vehicle in the parking lot. He provided Powers with the license plate information of their car, a blue Lincoln owned by a man who resides in Buffalo.
Powers arrived at the scene and parked away from the marina in the Holiday Inn parking lot, behind two large trucks. He was pleased to see that the fishermen fitting the description were still there. The group had split into two groups of two and was fishing about 100 feet from each other. Powers first approached the fishermen furthest south and checked their licenses. He asked if they had caught anything and they both responded “No, we just got here about a half hour ago.” He then asked how they had arrived and they responded the “blue Lincoln.”
Powers then approached the two gentlemen fishing just north and checked their licenses and asked if they had caught anything and both responded “No.” Powers then noticed that the one gentleman was the owner of the vehicle that was supposedly housing the duffle bag with the bass inside of it. He asked the man again if he knew about any possible fish that may be in his vehicle and he responded “No.” He then asked the man to open up the vehicle for him to check for any illegal fish and the man had said he would but did not have the keys. At that time one of the fishermen from the other group approached Powers and informed him that he had the keys and would open up the vehicle. While on the way to the vehicle, which was approximately 100 yards from where they were fishing, Powers asked the man again if anyone had caught anything and he again responded “No.” Powers had assumed at this point they would probably figure out that he was kind of “onto something” but wanted to see how long the men would continue to deny the suspicion. They arrived at the vehicle and the man opened up all four doors and said “Go ahead, check wherever you want.” Powers immediately noticed a Plano duffle bag tackle box in the middle of the back seat and asked the man to take it out of the truck. He removed the bag and Powers asked if he was going to find any fish in the tackle box. The man again responded “No.” He asked the man to open the tackle box and he did. Immediately, Powers noticed the clear plastic boxes at the top of the bag were sitting at an awkward angle. Powers removed the top two boxes and underneath them were two extremely large largemouth bass. Powers then asked the man who caught the fish and he replied “I did.” The man claimed that he did not know they were not in season but for some reason did not want to admit that he had caught them and then hid them. The fish were then released and the Buffalo resident was then issued a ticket for taking bass during the closed season. He was scheduled to report to Grand Island court to answer the citation. 

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