Attorney General Cuomo Secures Guilty Pleas From Buffalo Area Auto Body Shop For Dumping Hazardous Waste

BUFFALO, N.Y. (December 4, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced guilty pleas by an owner of a local auto body shop and itinerant worker for illegally dumping more than 100 gallons of hazardous paint solvent wastes at two sites in the Town of Cheektowaga.

Gary J. Moscato, 58, of Brighton Road, Amherst, owner of Earl’s Best Paint and Body Shop, pleaded guilty in Erie County Court to unlawful possession of hazardous waste (class E felony). David J. Lakes, 50, of Angela Lane in Cheektowaga, a part-time helper of Moscato’s, pleaded guilty to unlawful dealing in hazardous wastes (class E felony). Moscato and Lakes are scheduled for sentencing on February 24, 2009. The crimes carry a maximum penalty of four years in prison. Moscato has agreed to make full restitution to the state for clean-up costs.

“Hazardous waste must be disposed of properly, and companies that try to cut corners by illegally dumping harmful by-products will be prosecuted,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “The positive outcome of this case – the result of collaboration between agencies – recovers the costs incurred by the taxpayers to clean up the polluted sites and holds those who broke the law accountable for their actions.”

According to the felony complaint, Moscato generated and stored the by-products of cleaning paint guns and paint lines on site in five-gallon containers. After learning of the costs associated with proper disposal of the solvents, Moscato paid Lakes $300 to dispose of the containers. Lakes then removed the labels and disposed of at least 30 five-gallon containers of paint solvent waste at two out-of-the-way locations in the Town of Cheektowaga (off Ludwig Avenue and Ellicott Road). The cleanup of the two dump sites cost the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) $11,867.82.

DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said, “DEC’s investigators worked diligently to uncover an operation that was illegally disposing of hazardous waste and threatening the environment. We thank the Attorney General’s office for their help in pursuing this case and holding these polluters accountable for their actions and the state’s cleanup.”