Gravel mining violations
ECO Toni Dragotta recently completed an investigation of a local sand and gravel company dealing with mining and wetland problems. The company is a large highway contractor and maintains a number of large gravel mines throughout the Southern Tier. Along with Joe Bucci of the DEC’s minerals unit, Dragotta conducted surveillance and an inspection of a mine west of Elmira for which she had received a number of complaints. The investigation revealed a number of operations not allowed in their permit and included a violation in as adjoining wetland. A Consent Order was worked out that brought the mine into compliance and repaired the wetland damage. The company paid a $4,000 penalty.
Boating while intoxicated arrests
(Essex, Franklin counties)
ECO Mike Phelps received a complaint from the New York State Police in Ray Brook regarding a possible intoxicated operator on Lake Flower in the village of Saranac Lake. The officer took the description of the boat and patrolled to Lake Flower. Due to electrical storms in the area, Phelps took up surveillance from the boat launch. Within 20 minutes, the officer saw a boat operating on the water matching the description. The operator docked at the village docks where the officer was waiting. He noticed that the boat did not have registration numbers on both sides of the vessel and the operator was having trouble docking the 19-foot vessel.
Phelps asked the subject if he had been drinking. He replied that he had a “couple of beers” but nothing since 9 a.m. The subject was given field sobriety tests, which he failed, and was arrested for boating while intoxicated. The subject was processed at the Saranac Lake Village Police Department and released with tickets for boating while intoxicated, operating with a blood alcohol content over 0.08 percent, and insufficient registration numbers.
On May 26 at approximately 5:20 p.m., ECOs Jeffrey Hovey and Daniel Malone responded to a report of a boating accident in the Saranac River channel. There was minor property damage to one vessel and but no injuries. One boater was given a standard field sobriety test and determined to be under the influence of alcohol. He was placed under arrest for operating a vessel while intoxicated. He was taken to state police in Ray Brook and processed and was charged with operating a vessel at a speed not reasonable or prudent, operating a vessel with a BAC greater than .08 percent, and operating a vessel while intoxicated. He was issued appearance tickets to answer the charges in the town of Harrietstown and released to his parents. Maximum penalties for the offenses are fines up to $2,100 and up to one year in jail.
(Town Canton, St. Lawrence County)
On May 24, ECO Bret Canary was patrolling east on Irish Settlement Road in Canton when he observed a white Jeep Cherokee parked in a DEC parking access site. Canary observed a white female asleep in the driver’s seat, and two large knives on the passenger’s seat. While he was looking through the windows of the vehicle on the passenger side, the female operator awoke. As she looked at Canary, he observed a severe facial injury below her right eye. Her eye was swollen shut, black and blue in color, and had a cut that was still bleeding. She had dried blood on her hands, too. Canary walked over to the driver’s side of the vehicle to conduct an interview. Canary ordered her to keep her hands on the steering wheel so the ECO could secure the knives and the keys from the ignition. When asked how she received her black eye, she replied and stated that she and her husband got into a fight last night and he had hit her in the right eye. Canary asked if she had any other injuries and she stated no. Canton EMS and state police were notified and responded. Canary assisted with the interview and arrest of the husband from his residence. The victim declined medical treatment and filing of any statements against her husband. Had Canary never stopped, the incident may have never been reported. Her injuries and statement during the interview were enough to take her husband into custody.
Investigation nets ‘cow tippers’
On May 3, ECO John Lifrieri was contacted by Pennsylvania Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Rick Finnegan of the Pennsylvania Game Commission regarding a firearms case they were working on in the lower Bradford County/Sullivan County (Pa.) area. Allegedly, a vehicle registered to a female Elmira College student in New York was used in the commission of a firearms violation in Pennsylvania. Finnegan had learned the Elmira College student may have been with her boyfriend, a Binghamton man, at the time of the incident. New York DEC and the Pa. Game Commission conducted a joint investigation related to the case. Lifrieri and McCormick of Region 7 in Broome County located an address for the Binghamton man. Lifrieri made arrangements to interview the suspects along with Finnegan in the Binghamton area. During the interviews it was ruled out that they had committed any firearms violation; however, it was discovered that they were in the area in question and conducting unlawful activity. It seems that the pair had been “cow-tipping” on a farmer’s land which could lead to a misdemeanor trespass charge under the Pa. agricultural law. A decision on charges was to be made after meeting with the farmer.
Rescued after fall
While ECO Brian Wade was meeting with Sgt. Draper of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department about a hunting complaint in Groveland, Draper was notified that the locator in his patrol car put him at the location of a complaint that just came into the 911 center. The two were parked in a field a few hundred feet from a house where an emergency alert just came in of a fallen elderly male. Both officers responded and searched the house for the elderly man. They searched the yard and surrounding area where Wade found him in a wooded area near the house. He had fallen through a rotten wooden bridge into a creek. He was fine but had been stuck in the broken bridge. Draper and Wade helped him back to his yard and up to the house where he was determined to be fine.
Region 5 Memorial Day Weekend Detail
Conservation officers in Region 5 conducted intensified campground, conservation and navigation law patrols over the Memorial Day weekend. Due to the increased recreational activity during the holiday weekend, proactive patrols are maximized to protect the public and resources on the waters and lands in the eight counties comprising Region 5. One hundred fifteen tickets were issued for violations and misdemeanors ranging from fish out of season to boating while intoxicated.
Crown Point Bridge celebration event
ECOs coordinated security and patrolled Lake Champlain in the area of the bridge during a celebration related to the construction and opening of a new Crown Point Bridge that links New York and Vermont. All went smoothly as the ECOs on the water participated in the flotilla. Late afternoon on Sunday, a vessel reported it was on fire three miles south of the bridge. ECOs in Vessel B2 responded and provided assistance. The distressed boater, his wife and a puppy donned their PFDs and remained on their vessel as it was placed under tow by the ECOs to the Port Henry boat launch, approximately five miles north of their position.
Farm Safety Day 2012
ECOs Fay Fuerch and Eric Roderick participated in the annual Farm Safety Day held at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in the village of Lowville on May 23. The ECOs spoke to approximately 300 fifth grade students throughout the day about firearms safety. The purpose of the program is to educate fifth grade students about various safety issues they may encounter while living in a rural environment.
Lake sturgeon comeback
(St. Lawrence County)
On May 4, ECO Mike Sherry assisted fisheries biologist Doug Carlson with sturgeon nets that the department put out on the Indian River in the town of Rossie. Nine sturgeon were retrieved, measured, photographed, checked over for injuries and identifying markings, then released unharmed.
The nine sturgeon ranged from 47 to 60 inches and appeared to be in good condition. The sturgeon caught were stocked in Black Lake 17 years ago. Based on the condition of the fish observed, the department’s biologists are optimistic that the fish will be able to reproduce and establish a self-sustaining population in the lake. Also caught, attached to the sturgeon, were two small lamprey eels.
Pittsford Rotary Club Youth Fishing Derby
On May 12, the Pittsford Rotary Club sponsored a kids fishing derby at Powder Mill Park. Stansfield attended and set up a booth at the Powder Horn Lodge at Powder Mill Park. ECO John Stansfield handed out fishing brochures and kid’s activity books, and provided several different animal furs for the kids to handle. There were approximately 150 kids entered in the derby. Trophies were awarded for longest fish in five different age categories and there was a trophy for the overall biggest fish. The winning fish was a 19-inch brown trout. Stansfield also presented Kevin O’Grady, chairman of the fishing derby, with a check in the amount of $100 from New York Conservation Officers’ Association.
A little effort means a lot
ECI Chris Didion read on Policeone.com about a young boy in Brighton, Colo., with an inoperable brain tumor who had always wanted to be a police officer. While he lay in his room in hospice, the city of Brighton Police swore in the youth as a member of their force. Police officers from all over the nation, including Didion, sent department patches to the young man as a way to convey the police spirit of brotherhood, support and prayer for the brave youngster and his family.
Zoar Valley enforcement
On Memorial Day weekend, the ECOs of Cattaraugus County – Thomas Hansen, Robert Nosal and Nathan Ver Hague – were tasked with the ongoing trespass problems at the waterfalls in Zoar Valley. The problem exists once the warm weather begins in western New York and brings sightseers of the gorgeous valley that is referred to as Zoar. The main issue is trespassers wandering off of the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area to a waterfall upstream in which people can jump off the top and also swim behind the falls. Due to the trash, injuries and deaths that have occurred over the years, the private landowners have posted the property pursuant to Environmental Conservation Law and asked for the Division of Law Enforcement’s assistance. Secondary issues are the problems occurring from the multiple use area such as people camping illegally, possessing alcohol and drugs, glass containers and using the area after sunset. The ECOs patrolled the gorge on ATVs and over the course of the three days – Saturday, Sunday and Monday – issued a total of 31 citations, including trespassing, possessing alcohol on a Multiple Use Area, failure to comply with penal law and use of the area after sunset. All tickets were returnable in the town of Persia Court.
Rescue from sinking boat
On May 19, ECOs Michael Phelps, Carlton Gill and Scott Marshall rescued three people from a sinking boat in the Buffalo River. The officers were working on the Division of Law Enforcement’s 31-foot Safe boat when they were flagged down by a passing boater alerting them to the incident.
Phelps pulled the Safe boat alongside the disabled vessel to render assistance. The driver thought his plug had come out and was trying to find it. At this time, there was an inch of water on the deck of the boat. Within minutes, it became apparent that the vessel was in serious trouble as there was now a foot of water on the bottom of the boat. Phelps directed his crew to tie the sinking vessel off to the Safe boat and instructed the passengers on the vessel in distress to come aboard the Safe boat. He then summoned the U.S. Coast Guard and Sea Tow.
While trying to get off the sinking boat and onto the Safe boat, one passenger had stretched across the gunwales of the two vessels and was pushing them apart and was in danger of falling into the water. She had apparently suffered a back injury the night before and was pregnant, and her ability to move herself around was impaired. Gill was struggling to keep the sterns of both vessels together, so Phelps grabbed her under her arms and with assistance from Marshall, pulled her onto the Safe boat. With the passengers now safe, the driver of the sinking boat was bailing water out of the boat. The ECOs directed him to put on a life jacket and be prepared to come aboard the patrol boat if his vessel started to go under. The ECOs then towed the sinking boat to a dock that was nearby and requested medical attention for the injured female since she was still unable to stand.
The Coast Guard and Sea Tow arrived on scene and took charge of the sinking vessel that was now just above water and being held up by the mooring lines secured to the dock. EMS personnel arrived a short time later. The injured woman, who was now able to stand and walk, was checked out and released. Sea Tow found the transom of the boat had pulled away from the rest of the hull, hence it began taking on water. The boat was towed back to its launch point and put on its trailer. There were no spills or injuries.
On May 26 ECO James Hunt and K-9 Matz did a K-9 demonstration at Letchworth State Park for the Learn to Fish Day. The crowd consisted of about 100 people.