Attorney General Cuomo Announces Criminal Charges Against Four Men Who Intentionally Installed Faulty Septic Tanks
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (June 27, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today announced that four men have been indicted on charges they intentionally installed faulty septic systems, purposely streamed raw sewage into the Oswego River, and filed false documents to cover it up.
The charges relate to a scheme alleged to have taken place between September 2003 and April 2008 and involved a developer and his employee intentionally installing defective septic systems in a Town of Granby mobile home development, and digging a trench that streamed raw sewage into the Oswego River. A former Town of Granby code enforcement officer and an engineer were accused of illegally filing false inspection reports, which aided in the scheme to defraud home buyers.
"Skirting laws and regulations that exist to protect homeowners and the environment is disgraceful,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office will not tolerate scheming businesses that attempt to circumvent the system at the expense of hard working homeowners.”
Gary A. Royce, Jr., 42, of Fulton, a mobile home lot developer, and his employee, Leslie A. Baker, 30, of Mexico, were charged with scheme to defraud in the first degree, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of four years in prison. Daniel L. Flanders, 69, of Marcellus was charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and Harold E. Babcock, 70, of Fulton was charged for issuing a false certificate and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. These charges carry maximum prison sentences of four years.
Royce included installation of a properly designed septic system in the purchase price of a mobile home. However, according to court records, the septic systems Royce and Baker actually installed lacked necessary components or contained fewer components than required by law. With help from Flanders and Babcock, they also installed these septic systems without obtaining required engineer designed plans and inspections.
Flanders, a New York state licensed engineer, is accused of filing false inspection reports with the Town of Granby on two separate occasions. Babcock, a former Town of Granby code enforcement officer, is alleged to have submitted false inspection reports with the town, and then issued falsified certificates of occupancy to home buyers. A certificate of occupancy was required for homeowners to move in and for Royce to be paid.
In late March 2008, Royce allegedly dug a trench at one of his properties for the purpose of draining raw sewage into a nearby creek that flows into the Oswego River, a Lake Ontario tributary that serves as a fishing destination year round. With regards to this incident, the indictment charges Royce with violating New York state Environmental Conservation Law, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of four years in prison.
The four were arraigned in Oswego County Court where Royce was held in lieu of $5,000 bail and the others were released pending a July 2 court appearance.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas DeMartino of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Richard Ernst.
The investigation was conducted by Sr. Investigator David Bruce and Investigator Thomas Wolf.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.