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Post date: April 19 2001

Former Medina Village Employee Pleads Guilty

Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced the guilty plea of a former Western New York public works chief who illegally ordered the burial of arsenic-contaminated waste on village property.

The defendant, Edward Housenecht, 47, of Medina pleaded guilty to a "Release of Solid Waste into the Environment," a Class A misdemeanor. The incident involved the dumping of more than 70 cubic yards of solid waste at the Orleans County composting facility, located on North Gravel Road in Medina.

Housenecht was the Village of Medina Superintendent of Public Works in 1999. He has since retired and is currently working in the private sector. He admitted in Albion Town Court that he ordered the burial of contaminated sludge on village property in September 1999. The sludge, which contained arsenic, originated at the Village of Middleport waste water treatment plant and was accepted by the Village of Medina pursuant to an agreement between the municipalities.

Rather than send the sludge to a permitted landfill, Housenecht directed subordinates to bury the material at the village compost facility. When these actions were reported to DEC officials, Housenecht ordered the contaminated waste removed from the property and disposed of properly at a permitted facility. The DEC has since surveyed the site and concluded that additional clean-up is unnecessary.

"Public officials are supposed to prevent pollution, not cause it," Spitzer said. "This case was particularly egregious because it was clear that the individual involved knew that his actions were wrong."

"Our state's environmental laws and regulations serve an important purpose in protecting our natural resources and public health," Commissioner Crotty said. "As this case shows, New York State will aggressively pursue individuals who disregard our laws by illegally disposing of solid waste and potentially contaminating our environment."

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Russell Ippolito, under the supervision of Rocky Piaggione, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit and Criminal Prosecution Bureau Chief Janet Cohn; they were assisted by investigator John Brois of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police Bureau of Environmental Conservation Investigators.