New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – Dec. 28, 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.)

The ivory cats of Queens County

On July 5, ECO Joshua Harvey found an ivory bracelet detailed with cat carvings being sold online for $400. After communicating with the seller about the authenticity of the piece, the two agreed to meet at the defendant’s antique shop in Long Island City to complete the sale. On July 8, Harvey arrived at the shop in plainclothes with ECO Ryan Grogan waiting down the street in uniform. Harvey engaged the shop owner in conversation about his interest in ivory pieces and the shop owner told Harvey he had more pieces available. The shop owner returned with a box containing 19 additional ivory pieces. After inspecting the pieces and confirming their authenticity, Harvey offered to purchase all 20 ivory pieces. The shop owner determined the total value to be $2,000. Harvey told the shop owner he needed to get additional money to purchase the pieces, but would return shortly. Harvey met Grogan to explain the sale and then returned to the shop. When the offer of sale had been made and a receipt was given, Grogan arrived in uniform, confiscated the ivory, and issued two summonses for illegal sale of ivory and illegal commercialization of wildlife along with a Notice of Violation, giving the shop owner the opportunity to settle the case administratively with DEC.

Nuisance trapper faces charges
(Chemung and Chenango counties)

In early July, ECO John Lifrieri received a call from a certified nuisance trapper that another nuisance trapper from Tioga County had left squirrel traps at one of his customer’s homes and had not returned to check or retrieve them. Lifrieri confirmed that the nuisance trapper hadn’t returned to the residence since May, and had left two cage traps in different locations of the house. Further investigation determined that the trapper had not held a valid nuisance license since 2015, and has a history of violations with DEC. Lifrieri discovered that ECO Stan Winnick from Tioga County had dealt with this business in late June for similar issues in a different location. Working together, Lifrieri and Winnick located the nuisance trapper and issued him numerous summonses for illegally taking and possessing wildlife, commercially trapping without a license, failing to tag a trap, and multiple counts of failing to check traps in both the village of Oxford and the town of Big Flats. In addition to dealing with DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement, the business has faced violations from the New York Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. DEC’s Special Licensing Unit has denied the company a renewal of its nuisance wildlife control operating license, as well.

Sportsman education in Manhattan
(New York County)

On July 8, ECOs Ryan Grogan and Joshua Harvey spoke at a DEC-organized Sportsman Education course in Manhattan. DEC hosts Sportsman Education courses across the state to educate residents about hunting safety and New York’s hunting regulations. The New York City event was organized for a group of Chinese speakers and included a Cantonese interpreter. The ECOs spoke to the group about the safe and ethical methods of hunting and answered questions about hunting regulations. The officers also spoke to the group about DLE’s role in outdoor sportsmanship and where to find regulations for specific areas of the state. The group was enthusiastic, asking questions, and showing a great eagerness to enjoy the state’s hunting resources.

Batteries left on the sidewalk
(Putnam County)

On July 11, ECO Aaron Bonilla was conducting a compliance check at a dry cleaning shop when he noticed a number of lead-acid batteries on the sidewalk outside of a nearby auto parts store. The employees of the auto parts store did not make any attempt to remove the batteries for proper storage to avoid leaking into the environment. Bonilla spoke to the shop manager, who advised him that the storage of the batteries on the sidewalk was normal practice, as staff were busy answering phone calls all day. Bonilla issued the company a summons for the improper storage of lead-acid batteries, returnable to Southeast Town Court, and advised the employees of the proper and legal handling of used batteries.

Clamming in uncertified waters
(Nassau County)

On July 13, ECOs Evan Laczi and Mike Unger were headed to meet FDA and DEC shellfish inspectors by boat to address multiple complaints received over the previous week of people taking clams from uncertified underwater lands when the officers encountered two men clamming in the town of Oyster Bay. The ECOs found the men to be in possession of 19 bags of illegally taken clams. The pair were charged with possession of and taking shellfish from uncertified lands, as well as multiple commercial shellfishing offenses. During the officers’ inspection of their boat, multiple navigation law violations were found, as well. The two men were to appear in Nassau First District Court, and the clams were returned to the water.

Turtles for sale
(Oswego County)

On July 13, ECO Greg Maneeley investigated a report of a person offering native baby snapping turtles for sale in the town of Albion. Tracking the source of a Craigslist ad, Maneeley successfully located the individual offering the protected wildlife for sale. The female subject was ticketed for the unlawful possession of wildlife and unlawful commercialization of wildlife. The turtles were seized and released back into a suitable wild habitat.

Obey the signs or pay the fine
(Putnam County)

On July 13, ECOs Kevin Wamsley and Aaron Bonilla checked on fishing activity at a popular trout stream in the town of Southeast. The stream, a section of the East Branch Croton River, is a well-marked trophy trout stream that only allows the use of artificial lures and has a limit of one trout more than 14 inches per day. The ECOs watched an individual catching a fish. The subject started yelling to a friend down the stream about the fish he had caught earlier. The ECOs split up and found that both subjects were fishing with live wax worms. Wamsley interviewed the first individual and he admitted that he had kept a trout stashed behind a rock nearby. The hidden fish measured 10 inches, well below the legal size. The two subjects had walked past three large signs posted with the special regulations to reach their fishing spot. Both men were issued summonses for fishing contrary to special regulations, and the individual who kept the fish was issued an additional summons for keeping the undersized trout, returnable to Southeast Town Court.

Leadership and Law Academy outreach
(Orange County)

On July 16, ECOs Ricky Wood, Lucas Palmateer, and Corey Hornicek attended the Leadership and Law Academy at Pine Bush High School, an elective program for students that allows them to focus on government, economics, and criminal justice. The 14-day program is taught by social studies teachers, town of Crawford police officers, United States Army personnel, and an array of law enforcement agencies that provide instruction from their respective areas of expertise. During the academy, Palmateer set up a booth displaying confiscated items from different cases in Region 3, and spoke about an ECO’s typical work day. Wood and Hornicek, along with K-9 Deming, demonstrated striped bass detection, spent shell casing detection, and obedience and bite demonstrations for students. During the academy, students learn about various first responder and law enforcement careers throughout New York state.

Lost duck
(Clinton County)

On July 19, ECO Brad Buffa received a call from a concerned employee at a business in the city of Plattsburgh about a duck that had landed in the parking lot and wouldn’t leave. Buffa arrived to find a young drake mallard sitting behind a dumpster. After a short foot pursuit, Buffa was able to apprehend the duck and safely place it into a small box to be transported. The duck appeared to be uninjured and likely was lost and too scared to leave the parking lot. Buffa was able to relocate the duck to a more suitable habitat on Lake Champlain. 

Young outdoor enthusiasts
(Cortland County)

On July 19, ECO Andrew Kostuk was invited to Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville to speak with young campers about fishing and trapping. Kostuk helped kids identify fish caught earlier in the day, and discussed fun places in the area to go fishing with their families. Kostuk also talked with the campers about trapping, and identifying animal pelts and footprints. The campers were also given an opportunity to identify animal footprints they had seen on a hike taken earlier in the day.

Undersized and undercooked
(Kings County)

On July 19, ECOs Robert Kaufherr and Joshua Jarecki were patrolling Calvert Vaux Park in Kings County when they noticed smoke from a small fire near the shoreline. As the ECOs approached, the officers were surprised to find individuals adding more charcoal to their grill as the flames were high. However, while speaking with subjects around the grill, the ECOs observed a cart filled with blue crabs. At least 15 of the crabs were females with egg sacks attached. A quick look at the BBQ menu revealed two short fluke, one short weakfish, and two short striped bass. The ECOs released the blue crabs with eggs back into the bay and issued summonses for possession of undersized fluke, undersized striped bass, undersized weakfish, over the limit striped bass, undersized blue crab, and possession of female blue crabs with egg sacks still attached, all returnable to Kings County Court. 

Swimming pool fawn rescue
(Broome County)

On July 20, ECO Andy McCormick received a call from an off-duty Broome County sheriff’s investigator who reported a fawn trapped in his above-ground pool in the town of Chenango. Lt. Ric Warner responded. Using a catch pole and a little ingenuity, the officer removed the fawn from the pool. The deer was released and ran off into the nearby woods, wet but seemingly healthy.

ECOs at the Baseball Hall of Fame
(Otsego County)

On July 27-29, 38 members of the Division of Law Enforcement participated in the Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony in Cooperstown. The ceremony attracts thousands of baseball fans and celebrities and requires significant public safety assets and coordination to provide public safety, security, and crowd control. The Division of Law Enforcement provided officers from the Special Operation Group, Incident Support Team, K-9 handlers, officers trained in radiation detection, UAS (“drone”) operators, boat crews, ATV operators, and plainclothes officers. In addition to providing general security on land and water, DLE provided overhead live video from UAS missions and VIP security escorts during the Parade of Heroes. The weekend concluded with no major incidents.

Categories: Cuffs & Collars

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