New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars Report – August 18th, 2016
(Editor’s note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the state of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.)
Illegal mobile truck wash
On June 24, ECOs Jeannette Bastedo and Kimberly Garnsey were investigating a complaint they had received of a man operating a mobile truck wash in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. While patrolling the area they observed a man using a generator, a power washer, a scrub brush, and industrial strength aluminum cleaner to clean a truck cab and engine on the street. The man had no way to catch and contain all the oil, grease, dirt, and acid-based aluminum cleaner from landing on the roadway, running down the street, and draining into a storm sewer. As soon as the man was approached he stated, “I know I’m not supposed to do this. I know I am in the wrong. I will take responsibility.” The man was given summonses for depositing a noisome and unwholesome substance on a public highway and for disposing of a noxious and offensive substance into a sewer.
Illegal pesticide use
ECO Chuck Wilson responded to a complaint at the Winsong Medical Park in the town of Amherst in late May after a complainant had observed a maintenance worker intentionally spray a Canada goose with a chemical and destroy the goose’s nest. Wilson conducted interviews, obtained a written statement from the witness and examined the remnants of the nest. DEC pesticides staff responded to assist the investigation, collecting samples from the remains of the nest and from the pump sprayer that the suspect had used. Lab results confirmed all samples for glyphosate, the active ingredient in the widely available herbicide Round-Up. The man was charged with unlawful attempt to take wildlife by the use of a pesticide and failure to use a pesticide in accordance with labeling instructions on June 28 in Amherst Town Court. His employer was charged with allowing commercial application of a pesticide without certification.
Illegal hunting at night
On Friday, July 1, ECO Brian Wade received a call from a local New York State Police trooper regarding a traffic stop he had just made involving a “shots fired” complaint in the town of Mount Morris. The trooper explained that the three men he had stopped claimed to be hunting porcupines. This was odd considering it was after 11 p.m. Wade responded to the scene to assist the trooper and after collecting evidence, including deer hair and blood from a dent on the side of the truck, empty shell casings from inside the truck and a dead woodchuck from the back of the truck, he determined that the men were also involved in illegal deer hunting. The trooper also recovered three loaded firearms and a flashlight from the truck. The occupants of the truck gave both the trooper and Wade multiple conflicting versions of the evening’s events, but eventually the stories unraveled. The men had killed two raccoons out of season, attempted to kill one deer unsuccessfully, and successfully killed a large buck in a hayfield nearby. All of these offenses allegedly occurred from inside the vehicle while using lights on public roads or driving through farm fields. The men eventually brought Wade to a dead whitetail buck. The driver of the vehicle explained that as they chased the deer through the field as all three men repeatedly shot at it with pistols from the moving vehicle. At one point the deer ran into the side of the vehicle, denting it and leaving blood and hair on the vehicle. The men were each charged with five firearms and hunting-related misdemeanors under Environmental Conservation Law in the Mount Morris Town Court.
Shooting at a portable toilet
On July 3, Lt. Matt Lochner and ECO John Lifrieri were on plainclothes patrol in an unmarked vehicle at the Minier’s Field Boat Launch in the town of Big Flats. The officers observed two male individuals who were standing outside of their parked car. One of the men appeared to be drinking alcohol. Upon talking to the individuals, it became quite evident that both men had been drinking alcohol, and Lifrieri observed a shotgun in the back seat of their vehicle. The officers found that it was loaded. Lochner later found spent shell casings in between the vehicle and a nearby portable toilet, and Lifrieri matched the spent casings to the live rounds in the shotgun. Three shotgun slug holes were also spotted in the portable toilet. Both suspects admitted to shooting the “port-a-potty” and were arrested for violations of Penal Law and possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. The driver also had a revoked driver’s license and admitted to driving to Minier’s Field, resulting in him being charged with vehicle and traffic law violations as well. Both cases will be heard in the Big Flats Town Court.
On July 5, ECO Don Damrath received multiple calls complaining of smells and smoke emanating from a burning pile of horse manure in the town of Throop. Damrath responded and found that horse stable owners had been storing the manure in large piles and they spontaneously combusted in the excessive heat and dry conditions. Damrath was told that the piles spontaneously ignite frequently, but prevailing winds normally blow the smell of the smoldering manure away from the stables. This time, the winds were carrying the smoke into neighbors’ windows, and the flames spread dangerously close to a valley full of dry vegetation and dead trees. It took three local fire departments more than two hours to extinguish the burning manure. The stable owners were advised to take measures to mitigate the combustion problem immediately.
Eastern Timber Rattlesnake
On July 1 at 7 p.m., ECO Myles Schillinger was contacted by dispatch to respond to a complaint of a rattlesnake in a yard at a residence in Mount Tremper. Schillinger responded and contacted nuisance wildlife agent Roy Lane to assist in the capture of the snake. Lane arrived and the 3-foot-long Eastern Timber Rattlesnake was located, captured and relocated several miles away on state land. The homeowner was thankful for the removal of the snake and the rapid response of Schillinger and snake wrangler Roy Lane.
Illegal clamming in Jamaica Bay
On July 3 while investigating a complaint of illegal fishing, ECOs Bradley Buffa, Jason Hilliard and Waldemar Auguscinski spotted a large group of people clamming in Jamaica Bay off Broad Channel, an area that is closed to the taking of clams due to pollution concerns. Initially they encountered three people walking out to a parking area with containers full of clams. The ECOs issued each of the three tickets for taking clams from uncertified lands. ECOs then observed a second group of clammers walking to the parking area and identified themselves. Two members of the second group attempted to flee but were quickly apprehended by the ECOs. In total, the second group possessed more than 3,000 illegal clams. Each of the nine subjects was issued tickets for taking clams from uncertified lands and for taking more than 100 clams without a permit. All of the clams were returned to the waters of Jamaica Bay.
On July 5, ECO Steve Shaw received a phone call from the town of Clifton Park Animal Control Officer requesting assistance with a trapped fawn. The young deer had fallen more than 10 feet into a basement foundation of a new home under construction and could not escape on its own. Shaw responded to assess the situation with individuals from North Country Wild Care, a local non-profit organization that assists with wildlife rehabilitation. It was determined the fawn was in good health, and adult deer tracks were spotted around the area. A plan was made to capture and release the fawn back into the wild. The fire department was contacted to bring an extension ladder, and North Country Wild Care was in possession of a large transport cage. Shaw and the two members from North Country Wild Care climbed down into the foundation, cornered and threw blankets over the fawn, and moved the deer into the transport cage. Shaw carried the fawn up the ladder and it was released into a wooded area nearby.
Illegal shark parts
On July 6, ECOs Jeff Hull, Kevin Holzle and Ron Gross performed fish market inspections throughout the towns of Smithtown and Islip. They were finishing up their day when one of the officers observed a large Styrofoam container with shellfish stacked on top. Inspection of the container led to the discovery of a thresher shark tail, a mako shark tail and multiple shark fins. The owner was issued a summons for illegal possession of shark fins without the carcass.
Air quality enforcement
On July 6, Region 2 Division of Law Enforcement conducted an Air Quality Enforcement Operation on Rockaway Boulevard in Jamaica Queens, a heavily traveled truck corridor. An inspection site was established on the side of the road, and ECOs conducted random inspections to ensure truck emission control devices were working properly. Approximately 30 vehicles were inspected, resulting in summonses being issued for five air quality violations and two additional violations. Officers participating in the detail were Lt. Michael Buckley, ECO John Gates, ECO Bradley Buffa, ECO Wesley Leubner, ECO Jeannette Bastedo, ECO Waldemar Auguscinski, ECO Edward Piwko, ECO Kevin Cummings and ECO Paul Pasciak. Capt. Francisco Lopez was also present to supervise the activity.
Sea scallop enforcement
On July 6, ECOs Jordan Doroski and Landon Simmons were patrolling the fish docks at Shinnecock Inlet from an unmarked vehicle. As the officers watched vessels returning to the inlet, a commercial sea scallop boat caught their attention when four crew members climbed onto the cabin roof and appeared to be looking closely around the area. The ECOs also observed a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot, occupied by a middle-aged man on his cell phone. Officers have encountered “scouts” being used in the Shinnecock Inlet area in the past to alert fishing vessels with illegal harvests to the presence of law enforcement. ECOs Doroski and Simmons determined that particular boat would be appropriate to be inspected for compliance with federal sea scallop regulations. The captain agreed to offload the entire catch while the ECOs called National Marine Fisheries Service Special Agent Todd Smith to assist in counting the catch. The total catch was 109 bushels of whole sea scallops and one small bag of sea scallop meat, putting the vessel more than 35 bushels over federal regulation limits. The case was turned over to Special Agent Smith for further investigation.
On July 7, Scott’s Lawncare entered into a civil settlement with the DEC to pay a $20,000 penalty to settle violations that stemmed from a pesticide discharge. The initial incident occurred on March 25 when ECO Chuck Wilson responded to a complaint of trucks leaking fluids at a facility in the town of Amherst. A complainant observed two Scott’s Lawncare trucks leaking profusely and an employee washing an unknown yellow/orange liquid into storm drains that discharge into Ellicott Creek. After a lengthy investigation, the company was charged with various pesticide regulation and water quality violations.
Too many trout
On July 8, DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch office received a complaint of an individual taking over the daily limit of trout on the Boquet River in Elizabethtown. The fisherman was described as being accompanied by two dogs, and the complainant was able to obtain a license plate number of the vehicle being operated by the fisherman. ECO Jeff Hovey located the vehicle at a camp in the town of Keene a short time later. Hovey found that the fisherman was in possession of 12 brook trout and one brown trout the fisherman admitted he had caught earlier in the day on the Boquet – more than double the daily catch limit of five fish. He was ticketed for taking over the daily limit of trout.
Deer stuck in fence
On July 8, ECO Edward Piwko responded to a retirement home on Staten Island to assist with a complaint of a young female deer stuck in a fence behind the property. Piwko was assisted by members of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit. NYPD held down the deer with catchpoles so Piwko could restrain the deer. Once the deer was restrained so as not to harm itself or the officers, it was freed from the fence. The deer ran off into the woods seemingly unharmed.
How not to operate a paint shop
On June 30 in Hunts Point, ECO Edward Piwko observed two individuals spray painting cars on the sidewalk and in an open bay garage. Piwko noticed the garage was labeled as a repair business and stopped to check on the two men since they were not wearing any protective gear and were engulfed in a fog of paint. As Piwko exited his patrol car he observed that excess paint, oil and vehicle fluids were flowing down the city street into a storm drain. Piwko made the employees immediately stop all work and contacted the owner. Once the owner arrived on scene, Piwko did a walk-through of the garage, pointing out a list of offenses and safety concerns. The owner was issued eight New York City summonses for Environmental Conservation Law violations, including discharging waste to a storm drain without a permit, three misdemeanors for various air quality violations, and four violations for oil and chemical storage. The owner faces up to $70,000 in fines and over a year in jail. He is due in Bronx County Court in October.
Tug boat accident
On June 30, ECO Dawn Galvin responded to a tug boat accident near Pier 15 of the Tappan Zee Bridge on the Rockland County side of the Hudson River. Galvin confirmed that the tug boat Potomac sank in nine feet of water. The partially submerged, 47-foot-long tug boat had two crew members, both of whom were able to get off the tug boat unharmed. The boat contained up to 1,500 gallons of petroleum products but no sheen was observed. Galvin stayed on scene until the tug was raised, dewatered and able to float on its own. The tug was then moved to a Tappan Zee maintenance barge and then to Pederson’s Marina in Nyack. No spill or release of hazardous materials occurred.
Illegal reptile purchase
ECO Ron Gross recently spotted a black throat monitor and an American alligator advertised for sale on Craigslist. Both species are illegal to own in New York, and the map on the ad showed the listing in an area in Queens. Gross forwarded the information to Queens ECO John Gates. Gates began texting the subject on an undercover phone and through his messaging was able to set up a time to purchase the monitor for $350, although the alligator had already been sold. Gates was told to meet in Stony Brook, not Queens, to pick up the animal. Gates and Gross met with the seller at his house on June 30 in plain clothes and confirmed that the monitor was there. Once the seller brought the monitor out of the house, ECOs Mark Simmons, Marcia Goodrich and Lt. Tom Gadomski, who were waiting nearby, responded and took possession of the animal. The seller was charged with illegal possession of a black throat monitor without a permit. The owner allowed the ECOs to search the house and no other illegal animals were found. The monitor was seized and turned over to the Suffolk County SPCA for re-homing.