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Post date: September 24 2008

Attorney General Cuomo Gets Conviction Of Queens Man Who Flushed Raw Sewage Into Jamaica Bay

NEW YORK, NY (September 24, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced the conviction of a Queens man who discharged untreated sewage into Jamaica Bay.

John Schmitt, 56, owned and operated Schmitt’s Marina on the shores of Jamaica Bay in Broad Channel, Queens. Schmitt resided in the same building. The pipes from a sink and the toilets in the building flushed directly into Jamaica Bay, in violation of New York’s Environmental Conservation Law. Schmitt also owned and operated a telephone answering service at a second building nearby, where the toilet was connected to a pipe that discharged onto the ground and into the groundwater. The pipe had been concealed beneath pieces of old wood and raw sewage had been sitting on the ground beneath it.

“John Schmitt’s actions have been truly disgusting. Dumping raw sewage into a public waterway is not just bad for the environment; it is a clear abuse of the people who use the bay for swimming, fishing, and boating,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This conviction should send a clear message: If you blatantly disregard the environment in New York State, you’ll end up cleaning up your mess in court.”

“The hard work of DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation uncovered the numerous illegal activities - carried out with total disregard for the ecology of Jamaica Bay - at Schmitt’s Marina,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “BECI, which has historically focused on felony-level criminal activity, is a key component in our environmental crime-fighting efforts. We thank the Attorney General’s Office for the successful prosecution of the case.”

The two buildings are located a short distance from a designated tidal wetlands area, and Schmitt was also convicted for digging a trench on the tidal wetlands and attempting to drain it without a permit. These areas are environmentally sensitive and provide habitat for a variety of birds, fish, and other wildlife, in addition to providing protection from storm surges and flooding. Finally, when law enforcement personnel executed a search warrant at Schmitt’s building seeking evidence of his environmental crimes, they found him to be in possession of an unlicensed firearm

Schmitt was convicted of two class E felonies, a misdemeanor, and two violations for his environmental crimes. He was also convicted of a misdemeanor for the Criminal Possession of a Weapon. He faces up to four years in jail and up to $200,000 in fines. Sentencing will occur on October 28, 2008. The case was presided over by Judge Joel L. Blumenfeld of the Queens Supreme Court.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Hugh L. McLean and Jason Garelick of the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Felice Sontupe and Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly. The investigation was conducted by Investigator Salvatore Ventola of Attorney General Cuomo’s Investigations Bureau and Investigators Sara Komonchak and Lt. John Mattera from DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement.