Suffolk County Man Gets Jail Time For Refusing To Correct Wetlands Violations
NEW YORK, NY (March 1, 2007) — Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the sentencing of David E. Hansen to 30 days’ incarceration for contempt of court arising from his refusal to resolve environmental damages on his Suffolk county property.
Mr. Hansen repeatedly ignored an order of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and subsequent court orders, that he correct Tidal Wetlands Act violations at property he owns on West Meadow Creek in Suffolk County. Since his original infraction in 2000, Mr. Hansen has failed to remove construction and demolition debris that he used to fill tidal wetlands on his property, and he has refused to restore the damaged vegetation and wetlands area.
Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Emily Pines held that Mr. Hansen’s imprisonment be stayed for 120 days to give him one final opportunity to purge his contempt of court order. To do so, he must file a detailed plan to correct his violations. In addition, since he has failed to pay a judgment of over $60,000 in civil penalties imposed by the DEC in 2000, he also must provide the Office of the Attorney General with information about his financial resources. With interest, Mr. Hansen’s penalties now amount to over $90,000.
Attorney General Cuomo said, “The State Legislature long ago passed laws protecting and preserving tidal wetlands, and my office will relentlessly pursue individuals who violate these regulations. This wise decision by Justice Pines shows that people who break the law and destroy wetlands, and then ignore orders to restore these valuable resources, will not escape justice.”
DEC Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Carl Johnson said, “Tidal wetlands play an important role in our marine ecosystems. Not only do they provide a habitat for various species of aquatic plants and animals, tidal wetlands help protect the state’s shoreline from erosion and flooding. DEC is committed to preserving these valuable natural resources and working with the Attorney General’s office to pursue enforcement actions against those individuals who violate environmental conservation laws.”
Anyone with information about potentially illegal actions occurring in state-regulated tidal or freshwater wetlands should call their local DEC office. The DEC Region 1 Office, which covers Long Island, can be reached at 631.444.0270. The DEC can also be contacted through their website: www.dec.state.ny.us.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Simon Wynn, under the supervision of Section Chief Norman Spiegel and Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Katherine Kennedy. DEC Region 1 staff assisted in the enforcement action against Mr. Hansen.