New York Cuffs & Collars – August 22nd, 2013
Cobra in an apartment
On March 10, ECO Michael Buckley responded to a call for assistance with a cobra in an apartment located within the town of Newburgh, Orange County. Buckley arrived and found that there was, indeed, a venomous black-necked spitting cobra kept in a container inside the apartment. Buckley was advised that the snake’s owner had been arrested by the local police department for assaulting his ex-girlfriend earlier that morning. Through a subsequent investigation, and with the assistance of BECI Investigator Cynthia Harcher, the officers obtained a search warrant for the snake owner’s primary residence. The officers, along with Lts .Townley and Jacoby, ECO Kris Markey and Inv. Bob McDermott, executed the warrant and seized six additional illegal venomous reptiles. Found in the basement were two bitis arietans (puff adders), one heloderma horridum (beaded lizard) and three naja kaouthia (monocled cobras). Venomous reptiles are unlawfully possessed unless the possessor has a special license issued by DEC. An additional reptile, a caiman, was being harbored at another location by the suspect in the town of Marlboro, Ulster County. Officials from the Bronx Zoo took possession of all seven reptiles. Buckley charged the suspect with seven counts, as well as illegal possession of live venomous reptiles, and one count of illegal possession of a caiman.
Fish market inspections
On Feb. 19, ECOs Matthew Clemens and Eric Dowling conducted compliance checks of fish markets throughout the Bronx. In addition to addressing any state violations, the ECOs also focused on any federal violations as part of a Joint Enforcement Agreement with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fisheries law enforcement. During their patrol, the ECOs issued three criminal appearance tickets and one written warning for shellfish violations, including untagged shellfish and storage of shellfish on the floor.
Black sea bass out of season
On Feb. 28, a case that ECO Brian Farrish had started back in 2011 was resolved. On March 6, 2011 the NOAA Fisheries Service Fishery Statistics Office reported that black sea bass commercial landings for New York were at 533 pounds for 2011. However, black sea bass was not opened yet commercially in New York, and was not scheduled to open until May 14, 2011. The RSA (research set-aside program) had not started yet and still there were landings in New York. A request for dealer reports showing black sea bass sales in New York was sent to NMFS. Upon further investigation, the dealer reports showed the black sea bass in question had been purchased by a Bronx fish market. Purchase records were requested from the fish market and showed that a fishing vessel Point Lookout, N.Y., had made the sales to the dealer. The black sea bass was not reported by the fisherman and were not on the fishing vessel’s trip reports submitted from Jan. 1-May 14, 2011. All of the vessel trip reports submitted showed that the vessel had returned to its home port at Point Lookout and did not offload and sell in a different state. The captain of the vessel pleaded guilty to falsifying trip reports, taking and landing black sea bass during a no trip limit period for black sea bass, and taking over the limit of black sea bass, paying $750 pursuant to a civil settlement.
Caught in the act
On Feb. 25 while on road patrol in Dutchess County, ECO John Helmeyer responded to a Dutchess County 911 call for a possible burglary in progress at in the town of LaGrange. Helmeyer followed a state police unit into the driveway of the residence. The first trooper on scene was in the process of running the license plate of the silver Honda Civic that was running in the driveway. Helmeyer and the other trooper went around the back side of the house looking for the suspect and observed broken glass on the ground near a set of double French doors. The trooper signaled to Helmeyer to come to her location, as she could see the suspect inside the house. Helmeyer and the trooper went through the broken glass door with guns drawn as the suspect was ordered to the ground. The suspect did not resist and complied with their orders. The suspect was taken into custody without incident and the remainder of the house was cleared. A state police BCI unit responded to complete the investigation. The suspect has admitted to numerous burglaries in Putnam and Dutchess counties.
Off-duty lieutenant saves the day
On March 2 at 10 a.m., off-duty Lt. David Clayton and his wife Magdalen were travelling back to their home when Lt. Clayton spotted a neighbor’s shed that had smoke coming out around the chimney instead of out the top. Clayton stopped and alerted the owner of the house of the situation. Clayton then went into the shed, determined that the ceiling was ablaze from a wood stove and called 911. He requested that the woman get the water to a nearby hose turned on. While she attempted to do this, the Claytons emptied the shed of a motorcycle and other tools and equipment, along with paintings the owner had painted and had stored there. When the hose was turned on, Clayton knocked the fire down until the fire department arrived to complete the mop-up.
Youth conservation program
On March 16, ECO Kaitlin Grady and Lt. Dallas Bengel gave a bowhunter education presentation to a group of students at the Peconic River Sportsman’s Club in Calverton. The group of approximately 15 youths, ages 12-15, listened while the officers spoke about hunting regulations and ethics. Many good questions were asked and answered by the group, who are one step closer to a rewarding and lawful hunting experience.
On March 21, ECO Scott Sincebaugh was checking on a deer carcass dumping complaint that occurred on Summerhill State Forest in the town of Locke. As he was driving down a snow-covered seasonal road toward the area where the dumping occurred, he observed a pickup truck parked in the middle of the road. As he pulled in front of the vehicle, he saw the two occupants in the front seat feverishly attempting to put their clothes back on. During the interview of the two intoxicated subjects, the driver stated that he was 21 years old and that the passenger was 16. At this point, Sincebaugh contacted the Cayuga County 911 Center and Deputy Beck arrived on scene shortly thereafter to assist with the investigation. The driver was fully co-operative but the female subject was very drunk and extremely belligerent. A search of the male subject revealed that he had a marijuana pipe and a small amount of marijuana in his front pocket. He was taken into custody at that point and transported to the sheriff’s department sub-station in Moravia for processing along with the female.
The male subject gave a full statement to the deputy and was issued tickets for aggravated unlicensed operation (3rd degree), operating an uninspected motor vehicle and violating the penal law on state land. The case was turned over to the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Detective Bureau for further investigation into a third-degree rape charge. The female subject was released to her father.
On March 26 while fueling the patrol vehicle, ECOs Luke Billotto and Kurt Swan smelled a very strong odor of marijuana. They observed a maroon minivan with two male occupants at the time the odor was present. A vehicle stop was made and the subjects were removed from the vehicle and questioned about the marijuana. As Swan removed the passenger, he noticed a small bag of pills. When questioned about the pills, the passenger replied they were hydrocodone that a friend gave him. The subjects and vehicle were searched for other contraband, with more pills being found. The ECOs contacted Albany County Sheriff Deputy and K9 to recheck the vehicle after evidence of possible smuggling was found. Some used hash wraps were found, but nothing else was located. The driver was issued a summons for possession of marijuana and an uninspected vehicle – expired August 2012. The passenger was issued summonses for possession of marijuana and prescription drugs, an Class A misdemeanor.
On March 9, ECOs Steve Gonyeau and George LaPoint attended the Lower Hudson Valley Quality Deer Management Association’s annual meeting. There were about 280 people in attendance. Gonyeau gave a short talk about a deer mount that was seized because it was taken on a nuisance permit. This was a result of cooperation between ECOs and QDM participants as the QDM Chapter purchased a decoy and loaned it to the division for use in their enforcement efforts.
Illegal waste oil disposal
On March 13, ECO Jeremy Eastwood was contacted by the owner of a business on 5th Avenue in Brentwood with regard to an illegal disposal of waste oil at his facility. The owner was able to provide several photographs, video footage and a license plate of two male subjects emptying the contents of a 275-gallon oil tank into a dry well on his property. Eastwood then contacted ECO Matthew Krug to assist him with the case. After receiving the information from the complainant and verifying that waste oil was dumped down the dry well, Krug and Eastwood went to the house where the green pickup truck was registered and met with the registered owner. The vehicle owner stated she had allowed her church friend to borrow the vehicle and that he lived on Washington Avenue in Bay Shore. The ECOs asked her to call her friend so that he could return the vehicle, which would allow the ECOs to meet with him. At 10:45 p.m. the registered owner called Krug and stated that her friend was bringing the vehicle back to her house. Krug responded back to the location and was waiting for them when they arrived. Two male subjects arrived who matched the photographs provided by original complainant. They stated they "only dumped a little oil" so they could sell the 275-gallon oil tank for scrap. The two subjects were each given two misdemeanor tickets for unlawful disposal of waste oil and depositing a noisome/unwholesome substance on or near a sewer.
Squirrel scramble fever
It was a rainy Feb. 23 when ECO Myles Schillinger responded to a complaint of shooting from a vehicle on Valk Road in the town of Saugerties. Upon arriving at the scene and approaching the vehicle, a rifle barrel was seen extending from the driver’s side window. There were three male subjects in the vehicle. All three subjects were in the possession of long rifles, although none was loaded. The driver’s rifle was a .17 caliber bolt action and had an empty casing in the chamber. Upon further investigation, including a sworn statement provided earlier by the complainant, the subjects were arrested and taken to the town of Saugerties Police Department for processing. The two passengers signed statements stating that the driver had just shot at a squirrel from the truck. In the bed of the truck were five dead gray squirrels. The trio were participating in the “Squirrel Scramble” being run by a local rod and gun club. The three subjects were charged with numerous environmental conservation law violations. Six citations were issued in total. The driver was cited for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, shooting across a public highway and hunting without a valid small game license. The citations were pending in the Town of Saugerties Justice Court.
On Feb. 23. ECO Ricky Wood was on patrol with Lt. Deming Lindsley checking dozens of anglers on various Sullivan County lakes. They made an appearance at the Boy Scouts Youth Ice-Fishing Contest on Crystal Lake and the Sand Beach Contest on Highland Lake. Following numerous encounters with well-behaved fishermen, the two officers quickly found trouble while patrolling two lakes in the town of Bethel. On Lake Superior, the officers attempted to make contact with several anglers who appeared to not be in attendance of their fishing gear. While on the way, Wood observed two other anglers staring intently in their direction. While one of them gently slid his foot and an unknown object into a hole in the ice, the other slid his foot over the hole. The anglers appeared to be pleased with the fish they had to display as their day’s catch. Just before leaving, Wood asked if that was all the fish they had, and with big smiles they confirmed it was. Wood then ordered the one angler to step back, generating a “10-mile stare” which turned into a look of confusion. Upon a closer examination of the hole that was formerly under the angler's foot, it was discovered that several frozen-solid pickerel were stuffed vertically down the hole. When asked why they did not advise of the pickerel, the anglers stated that they planned on throwing them back because they were too small, and then asked for a break. Their information was collected and a new package of tickets was broken open to designate the offenses in writing, and to offer an invitation to the local criminal court. The original suspects who were not in attendance of their gear were issued verbal warnings for their offense.
On March 26, ECO Aaron Markey responded to a call for assistance from Putnam County Sheriff's Department for an open burn complaint in the Town of Southeast. ECO Markey observed that the owner of a concrete company had been burning old oil filters in a burn barrel. The fire had burned through the barrel and caught fire to a large pile of wooden concrete forms, which further caught fire to a parked truck. ECO Markey issued the appropriate tickets.