Guilty Plea In Albany County Paint Dumping Case

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin Crotty today announced that the owner of a Menands trucking company pleaded guilty to illegally burying industrial waste without a state permit.

Jeffrey Dagen, the owner and president of Dagen Trucking Inc., located at 566 Broadway in Menands, pleaded guilty to one count of illegally discharging industrial waste to the waters of New York State without a permit, a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Dagen appeared in Albany County Court before Judge Stephen Herrick.

"My office will work closely with the DEC to prosecute those who deliberately put the environment at risk by illegally burying hazardous wastes rather than properly disposing of them," said Attorney General Spitzer.

DEC Commissioner Crotty said: "New York State boasts some of the nation's most precious natural resources, and protecting those resources is at the heart of DEC's mission. Illegally burying hazardous materials affects not only the immediate area, but can severely damage an entire ecosystem. In keeping with our tradition of providing New Yorkers with a clean, safe environment, DEC will work alongside the Attorney General's office to ensure that our environmental laws are upheld."

A DEC investigation determined that between March and May 2001, Dagen and his employee, William Blowers, buried approximately 300 five-gallon cans and more than a dozen 55-gallon drums filled with waste paint, paint thinners, solvents and other hazardous substances on the company's property in Menands. Some of the cans and barrels ruptured and leaked, allowing hazardous materials to flow through the soil and into the groundwater.

The hazardous materials and the surrounding contaminated soil have been removed from the site and properly disposed of in a clean-up paid for by Dagen and supervised by the DEC. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has declared the area of the Dagen Trucking site an emerging wetland, is considering additional cleanup work.

Dagen, 39, of 661 Watervliet-Shaker Road, Latham, is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 5 before Judge Herrick where it is expected he will be sentenced to:

  • Serve five years' probation to be supervised by the Albany County Probation Department;

  • Perform 500 hours of community service;

  • Pay for past and future cleanup costs at the site, which currently amount to approximately $200,000;

  • Pay $20,000 to the DEC for its laboratory costs in the case; and,

  • Pay a fine of $5,000 to the state.

William Blowers previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disposal of hazardous wastes and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 27, 2003, before Judge Herrick in Albany County Court.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Rocky Piaggione of the Environmental Crimes Unit under the direction of Unit Chief Julieta Lozano. Investigators Stephen Canfield and Joseph Conroy handled the case at DEC, with the assistance of the Technical Services Section of the Division of Environmental Enforcement.