New York Cuffs & Collars – June 14th, 2013
Speeding ticket and a pile of deer parts
Late on the frigid Sunday night of Jan. 27, ECO Don Damrath was at home when he received a call from the state troopers requesting assistance with a traffic stop. Trooper Andrew Gargiulo had stopped a vehicle for speeding when he observed what appeared to be deer parts in the trunk. Gargiulo called ECo Damrath to investigate. When he arrived on the scene at midnight, ECO Damrath observed a freshly killed white-tailed doe, field-dressed and skinned in the trunk. Steam was still coming out of the plastic garbage bags where the defendant had placed the untagged deer parts. When questioned, the hunter admitted to shooting the doe with his compound bow from the back deck of his parents’ house on a small parcel of land in Greenport. The hunter claimed he shot the deer in the hindquarters at 5:30 p.m., but didn't recover the poorly hit animal until sometime around 10 p.m. The temperature of the deer indicated the hunter was likely telling at least some of the truth. The hunter had just recently taken the Sportsman Education and Bowhunter Safety classes, purchased an archery and hunting license, and claimed he thought the archery season for deer on Long Island didn't end until March 31. ECO Damrath issued several summonses, including misdemeanor charges for taking big game during the closed season.
40 years and still no permit
On Dec. 4, 2012, DEC marine unit officers George Scheer and Kevin Thomas along with Region 2 officer Matt Clemens and Lt. George Steele took an early-morning tour to a fish market in response to a tip a buyer has been dealing there without a permit for some time, even after being warned by the DEC shellfish program. The officers noticed two vans which did not match any permit records. Lt. Steele and ECO Clemens followed the first van as it left the market all the way to Manhattan to watch it make deliveries, while ECOs Scheer and Thomas waited for the other van to exit. Once the first van delivered, both vans were stopped and inspected. Both vans were packed with seafood and shellfish destined for restaurants all around the city, and all of it was unpermitted. ECOs Scheer and Thomas were talking with the owner of the van when he claimed he had been in this business for 40 years and never knew he needed the proper dealer/shipper permits. The officers explained to him the permits needed and the documentation it provides to help regulate the seafood industry. As the officers left, he was on the phone with his accountant to obtain the permit. This case is still ongoing and under investigation.
Last day of the season
On Dec. 15, 2012, ECO Matthew Nichols received a complaint that several individuals were catching striped bass and keeping well over their limit and none that were of legal size. ECOs Nichols and Alan Brassard responded to the area where the individuals were said to be catching the fish. Upon approaching the individuals they were found to have no fish on them, but when asked to see inside their van that was nearby the ECOs found their stash. Inside the van were 16 striped bass that were all under the legal size limit. The fishermen were issued tickets and advised that they are only allowed two striped bass; one at least 28 inches and the second over 40 inches.
Fish out of water
On Dec. 16, 2012, ECO Matthew Baker received a tip about someone illegally selling striped bass in Brooklyn. Acting on this information, Baker responded to the area of the complaint, parking far enough away from the area as not to be spotted. Immediately he could see someone matching the description provided by the complainant, and as he approached he saw eight striped bass lying on a plastic bag on the sidewalk. The suspect, a Brooklyn man, was issued summonses for possessing undersize and out of season striped bass.
Seafood market checks
On Dec. 20, 2012, ECOs Brian Farrish and Josh Sulkey were conducting seafood market checks in Suffolk County. The first inspection was at one of the local lobster dealers where the ECOs measured all chicks and lobsters and found a total of 101 undersize lobsters less than 3 3/8 inches. One tote of lobsters found in the back of the truck had 40 undersized lobsters and two totes found in the building had a total of 61 undersized lobsters. The owners were issued summons for possessing undersize lobsters, and the lobsters were seized and then released into the Long Island Sound. The next inspection was made at a seafood market just down the road, and after the ECOs completed their inspection, a van with New Jersey plates pulled up to the market to make a delivery. The ECOs asked the driver for his paperwork and he could not produce any New York permits. The van had mainly frozen fish but also had six untagged bags of mussels and 10 live lobsters. The driver was issued three summonses for possession of untagged shellfish, failure to possess food fish crustacea dealer shipper license, and failure to possess a shellfish shipper’s permit.
Claws for concern
On Dec. 21, 2012, DEC officers conducted market inspections at a Bronx fish market. The detail was supervised by Region 2 Lt. George Steele and Region 1 Lt. Tom Gadomski. Participating in the detail were Region 1 ECO Dalecki, Region 2 ECOs Dowling, Favreau, Maneeley, Mathis, Nichols, and Stevens along with Marine Enforcement Unit (MEU) ECOs Scheer and Thomas. The officers collectively teamed up and inspected over 25 different seafood wholesalers located throughout the market. The diligent work of the ECOs paid off, as they discovered and ultimately seized more than 1,000 illegal undersized lobsters throughout the market. The ECOs worked long and hard to measure and document each individual lobster that was found to be undersized. Regulations in New York State require that all lobsters (commercial and recreational) must have a carapace no less than 3 3/8 inches and no more than 5¼ inches in length to be considered legal. The owners of the markets were found to be in possession of illegal undersized lobsters and were issued summonses, and in some cases will be charged with felony level illegal commercialization under Environmental Conservation Law. In total, the ECOs found 1,098 undersized and 3 oversized lobsters weighing a total of 1,127 pounds. The illegal lobsters, after being documented, photographed and weighed, were donated to the Bowery Street Mission in Manhattan as perishable evidence.
Beached finback whale
On Dec. 26, 2012, ECOs Christopher Lattimer and Alan Brassard were dispatched to a call of a beached whale in Breezy Point at B 216th Street. The officers arrived on scene at 11:30 a.m. NYPD and FDNY personnel were already there and had taped off they area to keep bystanders and news crews away. It was low tide at this point and the whale was two-thirds out of the water. Crews attempted to keep water on the whale, since high tide was over six hours away. At approximately 2 p.m. biologists from the Riverhead Foundation arrived on scene to coordinate any possible rescue effort. The biologists explained that the only viable option was to wait for high tide to see if the whale could make it back out to sea. However, they did not have high hopes, as they explained that the whale appeared weak and emaciated. When high tide came in that evening the whale was unable to make its way back to sea and did not have the strength to keep its blowhole above water. Officer Lattimer was informed in the following morning that, unfortunately, the whale had succumbed. On Dec. 28 a necropsy was performed in an attempt to determine why the whale had beached itself. The carcass of the whale was then buried in the sand along Jamaica Bay.
Repeat offender commits felony
On Jan. 9 before Judge Neary of Putnam County Supreme Court, an individual was formally sentenced to four months of weekends in jail, a $7,500 fine, and five years probation for operating an illegal construction and demolition disposal site in the town of Carmel. Since this was the man’s second offense, the crime became a felony. The case was initiated by ECO Keith Manners, with follow-up investigation by Investigator Kevin Gilmartin.
Left their fish behind
On Jan. 5, Lt. Tom Gadomski organized a detail with ECOs Mike Unger, Dustin Oliver, and Josh Wolgast to conduct a dockside boarding of a party/charter vessel out of Point Lookout.
The officers had expected the boat to return before dark, but as the sun set the vessel was nowhere to be seen. The officers waited patiently, however, suspecting that the newly extended season and liberal 15-fish creel limit on black sea bass might be cause for violations of the marine fish regulations. At 7:30 p.m. the vessel arrived and as the fares disembarked the officers began to check the first few fishermen as they returned to their vehicles, observing immediately that over-limit fish was going to be an issue. At that point the officers had to scramble to control the crowd of 25 fares as they disembarked, for once the fares saw the officers at work in the parking lot they abandoned their coolers on the boat and left. Several summonses were issued to the first fishermen checked, including three for over limit black sea bass and two for scup out of season. Additionally, one notice of violation was issued to the captain of the vessel for improperly completing the vessel trip report. Thirty-seven black sea bass and five scup were seized from the fisherman who were issued summons; however, six coolers were abandoned on the vessel loaded with fish. A total of 287 black sea bass, 34 bluefish, 18 bergals, 10 scup, 1 ling and 1 bonito were found in the coolers. The captain claimed 375 black sea bass on his vessel trip report (15 fish for each of his 25 fares) although 492 black sea bass were counted by the officers. Marine Enforcement Unit ECO George Scheer and ECO Denise Ferraro responded to assist with the evidence handling. ECOs Scheer and Oliver then transported the seized and abandoned fish to the Church of the Open Door in Brooklyn.
K9 Buck catches fleeing suspect
On Jan. 19, state troopers were involved in a pursuit where two adult males and a one-year old child fled the vehicle into the woods. One drunk suspect was located in the first 10 minutes.The second suspect was dragging his kid along and carrying him like a football, traveling more than two miles through the woods. Troopers and ECO Steingart tracked with K9 Buck. The defendant employed counter measures by going back on his track going through a brook and finally partially burying himself in snow and leaves, but Buck located him. He was charged with child endangerment, resisting arrest, obstructing, aggravated unlicensed operation, and numerous traffic violations. He was remanded to Sullivan County Jail on $5,000 bail.
Alert ECO saves waterfowlers
On Jan.20 at 11:20 a.m., ECO Tim Fay was watching two waterfowl hunters hunting from a small, 14-foot camouflaged duck boat on the Long Island Sound near the Northport National Grid power plant. From his vantage point on top of a 50-foot bluff, ECO Fay watched as the hunters, about 200 yards offshore, began navigating through extremely rough seas due to nearly gale force southwest winds. At about 11:35 a.m. ECO Fay observed the vessel capsize, throwing the two hunters into the frigid water. ECO Fay immediately called over the radio to Suffolk County police dispatch, requesting rescue assistance. One of the hunters struggled but was able to make it on top of the capsized vessel, balancing on the hull and trying to assist his partner who was only halfway on the vessel. By this time, Suffolk County Aviation, U.S. Coast Guard personnel from Eaton’s Neck, SCPD Marine and Northport Fire Department were responding to the scene, as well as Lts. Matthew Blaising and Dallas Bengel, ECO Joshua Sulkey by vehicle, and MEU ECOs George Scheer and Sean Reilly via Safe Boat. At about 11:55 a.m. the Northport Fire Department water rescue team arrived at the scene and pulled the hunters to safety. The severely hypothermic hunters, once at the dock, were immediately put in the back of two waiting ambulances. After the Suffolk County Aviation advanced life saving officer checked the condition of the two hunter,s they were transported to Huntington Hospital. Thanks to the vigilance of Officer Fay the two hunters were released from the hospital and are doing fine.
Illegal hunting activity
On the Christmas night last year, two youths from Montgomery County decided to take a drive in Otsego County and go road hunting. After the suspects fired at two different animals, a coyote and a doe deer, a resident phoned the state police. The vehicle was apprehended and the driver, a Little Falls resident, was charged by ECO Mark Vencak with having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, shooting from the roadway and trespassing. The doe deer was killed by the passenger, who was only 15 years old.