Source: NBC News
Where to dump 60 million pounds of demolition debris, much of it containing asbestos? How about an upstate New York farm that also has wetlands and runs along a river? That act led to the conviction this week of two men who now face years in prison and hefty fines.
A jury on Tuesday found Cross Nicastro, owner of the 28-acre farm on the Mohawk River in Frankfort, and Dominick Mazza, owner of a waste management company, guilty of violating the Clean Water Act.
The debris came from New Jersey rubbish that was put through an industrial shredding machine without the asbestos first being removed.
The defendants “flouted numerous federal laws designed to protect Americans from exposure to toxic materials when they dumped asbestos-contaminated waste into an area that included sensitive wetlands,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Ignacia Moreno said in a statement.
“They also committed fraud and lied to federal investigators in the process,” she added.
The two were also convicted of violating the Superfund law’s requirement to report the release of toxic materials and obstructing justice.
Mazza was also convicted of making false statements to special agents with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The men “concealed the illegal dumping by fabricating a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permit and forging the name of a DEC official on the fraudulent permit,” the Justice Department stated.
Mazza’s company also “obstructed justice by destroying and concealing documents responsive to a grand jury subpoena.”
Investigators were tipped off by a dump truck driver who was suspicious about what was happening at the farm.
Syracuse.com cited Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Benedict as saying that when agents arrived they found bicycle marks atop the flattened debris piles, indicating local children had been using it as a playground.
Some 430 loads were dumped, Benedict said, and evidence showed the plan was to go on for another five years.
Nicastro faces up to five years in prison and fines, while Mazza could see up to 20 years in prison due to the obstruction of justice conviction.
A sentencing date for the men has yet to be set.
Three others had previously been convicted for their role in the dumping, which happened in 2006.
Nicastro planned to eventually convert the site into commercial riverfront property, Benedict said.