(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.)
Unlawful sewage discharge
On Aug. 8, ECOs Ricky Wood and Tom Koepf joined a Rockland code enforcement officer to investigate a complaint concerning a camp in Livingston Manor suspected of a septic waste violation. Upon arrival, the ECOs observed what appeared to be recent repairs to a failing camp septic tank and several other failing portions of a septic waste system. Wood then walked down to the Sprague Brook tributary and spotted a wastewater pipe discharging directly into the protected trout stream. The camp was charged with operating a point source discharge into the waters of the state without a valid permit and for polluting waters of the state in contravention of water quality Standards. All charges are pending in Rockland Town Court, and the penalties for each offense range from $3,750 to $37,500 per day. DEC Division of Water and the New York State Department of Health were immediately notified were working together to remedy the situation.
Deer and dope
On August 9, ECOs Ricky Wood and Tom Koepf responded to a Monticello residence for a call regarding a fawn deer. At the site, the officers observed an unlawfully possessed fawn deer in a fenced-in area of the backyard. Further inspection revealed that the deer was next to a garden containing multiple marijuana plants. The Sullivan County sheriff’s office was contacted and responded with detectives seizing the marijuana plants. The homeowner was interviewed and issued an appearance ticket for the unlawful possession of protected wildlife. He was later charged by the Sullivan County sheriff’s office for the illegal marijuana. All charges were pending in Thompson Town Court.
Wild animals in warehouse
On Aug. 9, ECOs Dustin Dainack, Craig Tompkins, Anthony Drahms and Wes Leubner, along with members of the New York State Police, assisted wildlife rehabilitators in the removal of 37 animals from deplorable conditions inside a Westchester County warehouse. The animals included two alligators, one large Burmese python, one large reticulated python, three ball pythons, a monitor lizard, multiple corn snakes, rat and water snakes, multiple turtles, frogs, and one cat. The former owner of the animals was charged with possession of wild animals without a permit and was in jail on unrelated charges. The subject was officially evicted from the warehouse and the animals were turned over to DEC-certified wildlife rehabilitators for care and final placement.
Aug. 10, ECOs Jeremy Eastwood and Brian Farrish were on a boat patrol in Little Peconic Bay in Southold when the officers found three subjects whose catch grossly exceeded marine fishing limits. The three subjects had 88 scup (porgy) over the limit and 24 weakfish over the limit, including 12 undersized weakfish. Each subject was issued tickets for the illegal fish returnable to Southold Town Court. The fish were donated to Community Action Southold Town (CAST), a not-for-profit organization created to help low-income residents.
Always on duty
On Aug. 12, Lt. Tom Gadomski was off duty in the town of Southold when he observed illegal fishing activity. The location overlooks the Long Island Sound, and a family was camped out on the beach keeping everything they caught, including undersized illegal scup (porgy). ECO Jeremy Eastwood was called and responded to find a large cooler full of fish. Of the 125 fish he measured, 78 were undersized. The subjects were issued tickets for the violation returnable to Southold Town Court.
Commercial fishing violations
On Aug. 13, ECOs Chris Amato, Tim Fay and Kait Grady patrolled Montauk Point for commercial fishing activity. When they checked a boat coming into Inlet Seafood after a six-day fishing trip, they found that the vessel crew had hidden 340 pounds of overage fluke in the fish hold behind empty boxes. The crew had also hidden a finned thresher shark, black sea bass (out of season), and several pounds of filleted fluke, black sea bass and striped bass. NOAA officer Ian Isaacs and Marine Enforcement Unit ECOs Ike Bobseine and Evan Laczi responded to assist with the investigation. In addition to the fish violations, the boat crew received tickets for a falsified Vessel Trip Report, untagged quota managed species, mutilation of species and a violation for wrong net mesh size.
On Aug. 14, ECO Gary Wilson received a call from a concerned citizen in Batavia who had encountered what he described as a “vicious raccoon.” The man stated that on the previous day, a raccoon in his driveway would not let him get out of his truck. He captured the raccoon in a cage trap and reported that it was still acting aggressively. Wilson responded and found there were actually two raccoons in separate cage traps, both appearing to be in good health. The ECO also found a large amount of cat food. The complainant and his acquaintance explained that they feed the local feral cats and set cage traps for them to capture the strays and have them sterilized for reintroduction back to the wild. Wilson explained to the duo that cat food provides an easy meal for raccoons, and the raccoons were acting as wild animals typically would when confined or cornered. Both raccoons were returned to the wild.
(Otsego and Delaware counties)
On Sept. 3, ECOs Russell Fetterman and Ryan Wing, a graduate of the 21st Basic Academy less than two weeks earlier, rescued an ill great horned owl in the town of Laurens, Otsego County. On Sept. 4, ECO Nate Doig responded to a report of a sick red-tailed hawk in the town of Hamden, Delaware County. Both birds were taken to licensed wildlife rehabilitators for evaluation and treatment.