New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – July 13, 2018

(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.)

Muddy water from a construction site
(Westchester County)

On Feb. 12, ECO Dustin Dainack investigated a tip about muddy water flowing from a large construction site and entering the nearby Blind Brook, a tributary to the Long Island Sound. Dainack hiked along the brook to the back of the 30-acre construction site and observed two areas where turbid water was freely flowing from the site into the brook. Although silt fencing was in place, it was improperly installed. Dainack spoke with the site’s construction manager and issued a summons to the general contracting company in charge of the site for the pollution of waters in contravention of standards for causing the discharge into the brook. The construction manager advised that he would begin working with the site’s engineers and contractors to quickly solve the turbidity problem. 

Dry cleaner inspection
(Westchester County)

ECOs Craig Tompkins and Charles Eyler were on routine patrol in the village of Port Chester on Feb. 13 when they inspected a local dry-cleaning business. The ECOs asked the manager if they used “perc” (perchloroethylene). The manager said they did and pointed the officers to “perc room.” Tompkins and Eyler found that the vapor room door was open and no employees were inside. Further inspection found that the waste container was open and unlabeled, allowing vapors to escape and enter the business. The business was issued three tickets for failing to keep the vapor barrier door closed, failing to label the waste perc container, and failing to keep the waste container tightly sealed, all returnable to Port Chester Village Court.

Short fish and illegal shellfish
(Kings County)

On the evening of Feb. 13, ECOs J.T. Rich and Evan McFee were on patrol in a busy seafood market in Brooklyn when they entered a store and noticed a pile of small black sea bass mixed in with larger fish. After measuring a few fish, the ECOs found numerous fish under the 11-inch legal commercial size limit. While Rich recorded the fish sizes and sorted through the pile of fish, McFee questioned the store’s manager as to where the fish had been purchased. The manager produced a receipt for the fish showing they were purchased that morning from a different wholesaler. The receipt indicated that the store had purchased 200 black sea bass, but only 30 to 40 were on display for sale. The manager then brought the ECOs to the basement cooler, where the officers spotted other containers of crabs, lobsters and clams. A large quantity of shellfish was stored in yellow bags without tags identifying source and harvest information. When asked about the tags, the manager could not produce records for the shellfish. The ECOs forwarded photos to a Marine Unit officer and DEC marine fisheries staff, who stated that the shellfish did not match any species harvested in the United States and that they were most likely illegally brought in from overseas. The ECOs issued summons to the business returnable to Kings County Court for both the 14 undersized black sea bass and seven 50-pound bags of untagged shellfish.

A n“ice” bass
(Oneida County)

ECO Steve Lakeman was patrolling in the town of Marcy on Feb. 17, when he observed a group of individuals ice fishing on the Barge Canal adjacent to State Route 49. Lakeman approached and spotted numerous perch and crappie on the ice near the three subjects, as well as one bass. The crappie were of legal size, but the bass was out of season. One of the subjects admitted to catching the bass and said he planned to put the fish back but had forgotten to do so. Lakeman issued the fisherman a ticket for taking bass out of season, returnable to Marcy Town Court.

Chinatown fish case settled
(Kings County)

On Nov. 6, ECOs Ryan Grogan and Paul Pasciak arrested the owner of Five United Market in Kings County and charged him with illegal commercialization of wildlife, a Class E felony, for 405 undersized tautog (blackfish) discovered during a plainclothes operation in Brooklyn’s Chinatown. ECOs discovered the fish hidden in tank filters in the basement. The 900 pounds of seized fish were donated to City Harvest, a charitable organization that supports needy populations throughout the city. The owner of the market settled the case on Feb. 6, and paid a penalty of $10,000. This was the market’s second run-in with ECOs in three months. Grogan also cited the market in September 2017 for the possession of an additional 44 undersized tautog, for which they paid a fine of $800.

The year of the clam
(Nassau County)

On Feb. 19, the Chinese New Year, ECOs Michael Unger and Chris Macropoulos inspected a supermarket in Mineola that Unger has concerns about due to its extensive seafood section, including several varieties of shellfish. After reviewing the market’s invoices, the ECOs determined that the market did not possess the proper tags for some of the shellfish for sale, including hard clams, soft clams, surf clams, oysters and razor clams. The market was also unable to produce tags for previously sold shellfish as required by law. The market was issued two summonses for possessing untagged shellfish and failing to retain shellfish tags for 90 days. Through the market’s invoices, the ECOs determined that all of the shellfish were legally obtained, but could not be resold without the tags. Being that it was Chinese New Year, and in lieu of destroying the shellfish, the ECOs allowed the manager to give the shellfish as gifts to his employees.

Too early for stripers
(Rockland County)

On Feb. 21, ECOs Corey Hornicek and Jon Walraven were on patrol in Rockland County when they observed two men accompanied by several young children fishing on a pier notorious for fish poaching. Almost immediately, the ECOs noticed a stringer hanging over the side of the pier. As the ECOs approached the group, the officers asked the fishermen whether they had caught any fish, to which both replied “none today.” Walraven pulled up the stringer, which had six striped bass on the end of it. Confronted with the overwhelming evidence, one of the fishermen admitted to keeping the fish on the stringer. The fish were still alive and were released. The fisherman was issued a ticket for possession of striped bass out of season, returnable to Haverstraw Village Court.

On Feb. 24, ECO Adam Johnson received a call about a fisherman keeping striped bass out of season and putting them in his vehicle near Piermont Pier. Johnson and ECO Jon Walraven responded and stopped the suspect’s vehicle as he was leaving the parking lot. The driver admitted to having five striped bass in the vehicle and was ticketed for possessing striped bass out of season and failing to have a marine registry. The ECOs continued checking fishermen along the pier and encountered five more individuals in possession of striped bass. The stripers were hidden inside two more vehicles and among the rocks along the pier. In total, the officers seized 20 striped bass from six individuals and 10 tickets were issued for possessing striped bass out of season and failing to have a marine registry. The live fish were returned to the Hudson River. All of the tickets were returnable to Piermont Village Court.

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