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Post date: April 12 2010

Attorney General Cuomo Announces Indictment Of Bronx Waste Hauler For Illegally Disposing Waste In Columbia County

HUDSON, N.Y. (April 12, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a criminal indictment and other court action against a Bronx-based waste hauler accused of illegally disposing solid waste at two unpermitted facilities in Clermont and Copake in Columbia County.

An indictment filed by Attorney General Cuomo’s Office in State Supreme Court of Columbia County alleges that Salvatore Cascino and Bronx County Recycling, LLC illegally disposed of solid waste at an unpermitted facility off Route 9G in Clermont in violation of state Environmental Conservation Law. Cuomo’s office also filed a motion seeking to force Cascino and his businesses, 13 Lackawanna Properties, LLC and Copake Valley Farm, LLC to comply with a 2007 court settlement barring any dumping at his farm on Lackawanna Road in Copake.

“This individual disregarded public safety and left Columbia County residents and the surrounding environment to pay the price,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office will vigorously enforce environmental laws that protect the health and safety of the people of Columbia County and across New York.”

The defendants were charged with one count of operating an unpermitted landfill and one count of endangering public health, safety, or the environment in the fourth degree (both misdemeanors). The charges carry a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison. Cascino was released on his own recognizance pending a May 10 court appearance.

The indictment alleges that between December 2008 and July 2009, Cascino and Bronx County Recycling, LLC recklessly disposed of more than 70 cubic yards of solid waste and petroleum at an unpermitted facility on Route 9G in Clermont. As a registered construction and debris processing facility, Bronx County Recycling, located at 475 Exterior Avenue in the Bronx, is permitted to accept only uncontaminated, rock, asphalt, dirt, and concrete and reprocess it for limited designated and permitted uses.

In a separate filing, Cuomo’s office is seeking to compel Cascino and his businesses, 13 Lackawanna Properties, LLC and Copake Valley Farm, LLC to immediately comply with the terms of a July 2007 consent decree prohibiting him from accepting any solid waste at Copake Valley Farm, located at 13 Lackawanna Road. A September 2009 court-authorized search at the farm revealed that more solid waste had been accepted there since 2007 - a direct violation of the consent decree. Recent results of sampling of the solid waste revealed that it contained elevated levels of friable asbestos, a hazardous air pollutant regulated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The motion seeks an order requiring Cascino and the other defendants to promptly clean up the waste under DEC supervision.

Today’s indictment and civil action follow previous action taken by the Attorney General’s office to address environmental and public safety concerns related to the Cascino’s activities in Columbia County and other parts of the state. The Copake site and the defendants’ activities was the subject of a civil complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office in 2007 for numerous violations of the Environmental Conservation Law protecting streams and wetlands and for violations of solid waste regulations and statutes. The July 2007 Consent Decree obtained more than $140,000 in penalties and environmental mitigation funds and required restoration of the wetlands.

In the Town of Dover Plains in Dutchess County, the Attorney General’s Office filed a civil suit in 2009 against Cascino and his companies for disposing at another unpermitted facility. Criminal citations were also issued to defendant’s employees for such disposal. The suit and criminal charges in that matter are pending.

“This case began with the hard work of our Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation, which specifically targets high-level and serious offenses,” State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said. “This is not the first time DEC has teamed with the Attorney General’s Office to put a stop to Mr. Cascino's illegal activities. Our joint effort sends a clear message that the state will prosecute such cases to the fullest extent in order to prevent improper dumping and ensure a safe environment.”

The investigation was initiated by Investigator Jesse Paluch of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation. The Attorney General’s Office joined the investigation in September 2008, which included the execution of search warrant at the Clermont and Copake locations in September 2009.

The criminal case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James Woods and Assistant Attorney General Catherine Leahy Scott under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Deputy Chief Richard Ernst and Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly. The investigation was conducted by the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation. The civil action is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Myers of the Environmental Protection Bureau under the supervision of Lisa Burianek.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.