Car Wash Owner Indicted For Illegal Discharges

Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin Crotty today announced the indictment of a Dutchess County man for illegally dumping wastewater from a Town of Poughkeepsie car wash into Wappinger Creek, which flows into the Hudson River.

The defendant -- Douglas H. Casement of 58 Ridge Road, Poughkeepsie -- owns the Purple Parlor Car Wash located at 264 Dutchess Turnpike and DeGarmo Road. He was charged by a Dutchess County Grand Jury and arraigned today before Dutchess County Judge Gerald Hayes on two counts of discharging pollutants without a permit, one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the first degree, and one count of Making a False Material Statement, Representation or Certification. All charges are class E felonies punishable by up to 4 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines.

In court today, Casement pleaded not guilty and was released without bail. Judge Hayes set March 19 as the next appearance date in the case. The charges against Casement are accusations; he is presumed innocent until found guilty by a court.

Investigators from the DEC conducted a six-month investigation into an allegation that Purple Parlor Car Wash had illegally connected a pipeline from its wastewater collection system to the concrete storm drain that runs under DeGarmo Road and empties into Wappinger Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River. The indictment alleges that on April 4, 2001, and May 3, 2001, Casement discharged the wastewater from his car wash into the storm drain, which empties directly into the creek before flowing into the Hudson River.

With the help of DEC engineers, investigators executed a search warrant on May 3, 2001 and confirmed that several large underground holding tanks were connected by pump and pipeline to the illegal connection in the storm drain. Casement had claimed in documents submitted to the DEC that he was not discharging his wastewater from the car wash but was having the water pumped out of the tanks and hauled away by trucks for proper disposal.

The DEC referred the case to the Attorney General for prosecution.

"This defendant engaged in a covert, premeditated and systematic scheme to avoid the law and increase his profit margin." Spitzer said. "We will continue to work with the DEC to uphold the environmental law and prosecute those who pollute the state's environment as a matter of convenience."

DEC Commissioner Crotty said: "By illegally discharging pollutants into Wappinger Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River, this defendant showed a complete disregard for the environment and the millions of New Yorkers who depend on these critical water resources. DEC will continue to prevent damage to our environment and protect the quality of our water, land and air by strictly enforcing New York's environmental laws and regulations."

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lynn Tabbott, under the supervision of Assistant Attorneys General Rocky Piaggione and William Comiskey. The DEC investigation was led by Investigators Beverly Whalen and ECO Jeffrey Lindell, a hazardous substance specialist, under the supervision of Lt. Steve Wagner.