New York Cuffs and Collars – January 24th, 2014
Late-night angling patrol
ECO John Lifrieri was conducting late-night patrol along the Chemung River in the city of Elmira. Lifrieri located and began field inspections of several separate groups of fishermen. Several individuals were not in compliance with the New York state freshwater fishing regulations and were issued tickets, and Lifrieri continued his patrol upstream. He observed two fishermen tucked away in a discrete location on the river bank at about 2:30 a.m. After monitoring their activities for a short time, Lifrieri surprised the pair as he alerted them of his presence from just a few feet away. Both fishermen claimed to be surprised to see the ECO, although one stated, “I expect to see DEC officers any time of the day or night.” Upon conducting an inspection and checking for fishing licenses, he discovered one was fishing without a license and was charged for that violation. All of the tickets were to be answered in Elmira City Court.
Water quality/mineral resource violations (Oswego County)
ECO Matthew Harger concluded a lengthy investigation in the Oswego County town of Granby that involved alleged numerous water quality and mining violations committed by a sand and gravel company. Their operations impacted Rice Creek, a protected trout stream. The investigation began when a local resident contacted the Syracuse DEC office and reported that a portion of Rice Creek had started to run very muddy. Harger responded to the area and observed heavy turbidity in Rice Creek just as the complainant stated. The turbid water was traced to an unnamed tributary that flowed into Rice Creek near the sand and gravel company’s ongoing mining operations. Following the tributary into the gravel pit, Harger located the source of the turbid water, a large retaining pond full of silt laden water whose bank had failed. Once the bank of the retaining pond failed, this allowed the silt-laden water to flow unrestricted into the tributary that eventually flowed into Rice Creek. The owner of the gravel pit was contacted and informed of the ongoing situation and the urgent need to repair the retaining pond as soon as possible. The retaining pond was repaired and an investigation into the causes that lead to the failure began with the assistance of the DEC minerals staff. Unfortunately during the investigation, which lasted several weeks, the same scenario occurred on two more occasions, causing additional damage to the Rice Creek area. The third occurrence was so large it washed away a portion of a town road. It was determined by Harger that the company was in violation of eight conditions of the DEC issued mining permit in addition to 10 violations of the environmental conservation law, all of which were misdemeanor level offenses. The violations were handled through a Department consent order, which included a $25,000 fine and a schedule of compliance that addressed all violations and repairs to the mining operation.
How about a smoke?
ECO Alan Brassard was on patrol when he spotted a large black cloud of smoke in the distance. Brassard found it was coming from a heavy-duty diesel vehicle of an age bordering on antiquity. The officer stopped the vehicle and conducted a safety check and smoke meter test on the old truck. The vehicle in question failed the smoke meter test and the driver was issued a summons for exhaust over the opacity limits.
ECO Michael Bello responded to a call from the town of Liberty Building Inspector Mark Van Etten, who stated that the property owner at 193 Old Monticello Road, Liberty, had demolished his doublewide trailer home, taken it off site and was burning and burying it in the rear of his property. All of the allegations made were observed by Bello during his site visit. The property owner and responsible party readily admitted to following the bad suggestions from his friends to demolish his doublewide trailer and burn it, as well as to accept construction and demolition debris from off-site and attempt to bury and burn it on his property as well. The defendant was issued tickets and was to remove all C&D from his property by hiring a carting company
Guess what I found?
ECO Brian Toth conducted a pesticides patrol with Colleen Darcy, a DEC pesticides inspector. While patrolling in Mamaroneck, they observed someone applying pesticides without any warning markers at a large office complex. They stopped and found a few additional problems, as well. The landscape company was from Connecticut and could not provide proof of registration as a pesticide business or a written contract. In addition to those charges, Toth also wrote summonses for applying pesticides without certification, failure to place warning markers, storing pesticides in unlabeled containers, and distributing, selling or using unregistered pesticide.
What's everybody looking at?
While on patrol through East Meadow on July 16, ECO Denise Ferraro observed sanitation men standing in front of a storm drain. Observing a trail of white liquid on the pavement, she stopped to inquire about what had happened. The town employees seemed to think the homeowner closest to the incident had dumped paint into the drain. Ferraro followed the spill to its origin point and noticed that a resident had had concrete work done. Upon further investigation, the officer determined that the contractor had disposed of their concrete slurry into the storm drain. Summonses were issued and DEC was advised of the water quality violation.
Dump and run
ECO Deo Read received a complaint of debris dumped in the Crum Elbow Creek along Frost Road. The Rhinebeck Highway Department went out and cleaned up the debris, saving it for Read at the town highway garage. Read dug through the waste, finding several pieces of relevant evidence, including a vehicle registration and electric bill with the same name on them. The ECO interviewed the suspect’s parents in Rhinebeck and then the suspect at his house in Hyde Park. The suspect admitted he had dumped the debris the previous night. Read issued the appropriate tickets and the case was pending local criminal court
I Fish NY
ECO Nathan Favreau was assisting DEC fisheries staff at an “I Fish NY” event with students from Bronx Public School 48. During the fishing clinic with the fourth graders, one of the chaperones approached the officer and inquired about the freshwater fishing regulations at the lake. The officer explained that a New York state freshwater fishing license is needed and any fish caught must be returned. The chaperone explained that he had just seen a man on the other side of the lake catch a fish and not return it to the water. The officer walked around to where the man was fishing and discovered that he did not possess a freshwater fishing license. The fisherman also indicated that he did not catch any fish. Upon inspection of his tackle, the officer discovered a seven-inch smallmouth bass concealed in a black plastic bag. Fortunately, the fish was still alive and was returned to the water. The fisherman was issued summonses for fishing without a freshwater fishing license and failure to return the fish to the water.
Fish sale fail
ECO Matthew Baker received a tip of a man illegally selling fish in the Chinatown area of Brooklyn. To catch the man selling the fish, Baker responded to the area in plain clothes so as not to be noticed. After parking a few blocks away and walking the area, Baker noticed some coolers on the sidewalk in front of one of the fish markets, and a man behind the cooler exchange a bag of largemouth bass for cash. Baker stepped in and stopped the sale and issued the man attempting the sale six citations for the illegal sale of fish, including largemouth bass, crappie and rock bass. In total there were over illegal 70 fish being stored in two coolers with aerators to keep the fish alive.
Spear me the excuses
ECO Joshua Sulkey received a call from ECO Joshua Wolgast stating that a fisherman saw a man spearing fish at Wildwood Lake in the town of Southampton. Sulkey responded to the location, where he spoke with a few of the fishermen in the area. He also contacted ECO Don Damrath, who gave the ECO better information on where the spear fisherman could be. A group of people could be seen across the lake and Sulkey went to that part of the lake. Upon walking up to the group, Sulkey saw one of the men with a spear gun in hand and two other men with a cooler filled with fish. There wasn't a fishing rod in sight. All the fish had holes in them caused by the spear. There were a total of 24 fish taken with the spear – 19 sunfish, one catfish, and four largemouth bass, three of which were undersized. Several citations were issued for these violations, including taking other than by angling and failing to have fishing licenses.
Leatherback sea turtle rescue
Lt. Frank Carbone and ECO Jeremy Eastwood were on boat patrol on the south side of Orient Point, town of Southold, when they came across a distressed leatherback sea turtle. The sea turtle was on the surface of the water entangled in the line of a lobster pot buoy. The line was wrapped around the turtle’s right front and rear flippers and the turtle was unable to break free. Despite the strong current and rough sea conditions, the officers managed to safely free the turtle and retrieve the fisherman’s buoy. Lt. Carbone recorded the incident, which received quite a bit of attention from the local news media.
Illegal lead paint removal
ECO Nate Doig responded to a complaint in the village of Delhi of an individual grinding lead paint off a house. Doig arrived on scene and could see lead paint dust particles all over neighboring properties and vehicles. The individual told the neighbors that he was certified through the EPA in lead paint removal and not to worry about it. Doig asked to see his certificate and he admitted that he was not certified through the EPA in lead paint removal. Doig issued the individual a ticket for the illegal disposal of solid waste and relayed all of the information to the EPA for followup with the individual for not having a certificate in lead paint removal.
Illegal disposal of shingles
ECOs Nate Doig and George Wilber received a call regarding illegal disposal of shingles on an individual’s property. Doig and Wilber interviewed the complainant, who stated that he transported the shingles from South New Berlin to Walton and dumped them. The individual was hired by a contractor who told him to bring the shingles back to the contractor’s farm and dump them in a designated area. The contractor was upset about where the shingles were dumped and threatened the individual that he was going to call ENCON for illegal dumping unless he came back and moved the shingles to the designated hole. Doig and Wilber were able to locate the pile of shingles approximately a quarter mile up a farm road. Both the complainant and the contractor were issued tickets for the illegal disposal of solid waste and the contractor/property owner has agreed to properly clean up the mess.
Trailer park septic discharge
ECO Nate Mead received a call from a complainant stating he had raw sewage running through his yard and the smell was unbearable. The caller also stated the sewage from his yard entered into the highway ditch, which emptied directly into Healy Creek. Upon arrival, Mead could smell the sewage and was able to locate the flow easily from the road. Mead followed the sewage flow to the point source, which was an overflowing 7,000-gallon underground tank at the Deerfield Estates Trailer Park. Mead took pictures of the site and contacted Lt. John Ellithorpe. The following day, Mead and Ellithorpe performed a site inspection on Deerfield Estates and contacted the property manager for a tour of the facility. The property manager indicated that the pump at the pumping station had stopped working, which caused the tanks to overflow. There was a pump on order for the pumping station, but he was waiting for it to be delivered. It took a total of three 1,500-gallon sewage trucks to lower the tank to a reasonable level. Mead and Ellithorpe oversaw the project and then cleared the scene. Mead issued notices of violations to the owners and one to the property manager for the two days witnessed of sewage entering Healy Creek.
Burning down the house
ECO Terry Chase responded to a complaint of an open burn with a thick, dark, noxious smoke on Charley Hill Road in Schroon Lake. The local fire department was at the scene extinguishing the fire while an employee of the construction company hired to demolish several buildings at the site argued that it was a legal burn since he had a “burning permit.” Upon further inspection, Chase could see several tires engulfed in the flames, as well as four more at the edge of the flames. The construction debris contained various contents of the buildings, all of which is not considered clean wood and unlawful to burn. Charged with unlawful disposal of solid waste was the owner of the construction company. Also charged with illegal open burning were his two company employees, one of whom was also charged with violating the conditions of a permit. The subjects are facing maximum fines totaling in excess of $45,000.
Burning leads to jail time
A Camden resident was charged with unlawful open burning, illegal disposal of solid waste, possessing a loaded gun in a motor vehicle and numerous vehicle and traffic violations. ECOs Steve Lakeman, Vern Fonda and Investigator Fran D’Angelo responded to the scene on Howard Road in the town of Camden after they received a tip that someone had lit a mobile home on fire. The officers arrived to find the floor of the trailer on fire, along with construction and demolition debris and other household garbage. No one was attending the blaze. The fire department was called out to extinguish the fire. The subject returned to the scene and was questioned by the officers. New York state troopers were called to the scene to assist with the pending charges. The subject was taken to state police barracks in Sylvan Beach for processing and to the Camden Town Court for immediate arraignment. The subject was then taken to the Oneida County jail in lieu of $2,500 bail and was due in court at a later date.
Placing fill in navigable waters
ECO Jeff Dempster responded to a residence on Saratoga Lake on a complaint of the owners of a marina placing fill in the lake and adjacent canal. Dempster met with the owner of the marina and observed blue stone in the lakeshore about two feet into the water. The marina owner was issued a notice of violation for placing fill in navigable waters and was directed to contact Lt. John Ellithorpe to resolve the violation.
Underage possession of alcohol
ECOs Jeff Hovey and Matt LaCroix conducted a patrol on the Saranac Chain of Lakes. After starting their patrol on lower Saranac Lake, Hovey noticed a boat anchored in front of the popular swimming spot known as “The Bluffs,” a day-use area for the Saranac Islands campground. There was one male subject aboard the vessel and a beer can turned upside down on top of a cooler in the boat. The subject and his friend up on The Bluffs both were under 21 years of age. In total, there were 21 cans of beer in the boat and no one of legal age to possess the alcohol onboard. The boat, with the two subjects aboard, was towed back to the DEC Second Pond boat launch. The beer was confiscated and both subjects were issued tickets for underage possession of alcohol on state land. The officers’ enforcement action prevented what could have turned into a dangerous situation of intoxicated subjects jumping off the 50-foot cliffs into the lake.