Attorney General James and DEC Commissioner Seggos Announce Convictions of Recycling Companies for Illegally Processing 800 Tons of Hazardous E-Waste

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the convictions of ALPCO Recycling, Inc., (ALPCO), and its owner, Alton Plumb, Jr., as well as Finger Lakes Cleanup and Recycling Consultants, Inc., and its project manager, Craig Foster, for their roles in illegally processing and disposing of 800 tons of electronic waste (e-waste) in Wayne County. Yesterday's convictions were the result of a joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), DEC, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“When hazardous waste is not managed properly, it puts families and communities at risk, and endangers the environment,” said Attorney General James. “By disregarding public safety laws and common sense, these companies put residents in harm’s way and stuck local communities with the mess they left behind. Hopefully this conviction sends a clear message that illegally disposing of waste will not be tolerated by my office or our partners. I thank the DEC and the EPA for their coordination throughout this process, and for assisting as we brought these bad actors to justice.”

“Dumping e-waste is illegal and has the potential to damage our natural resources and impact the health of New Yorkers long after the dumping occurs,” said DEC Commissioner Seggos. “DEC’s thorough investigation and the joint enforcement action with Attorney General James and the U.S. EPA resulted in these convictions of two recycling companies and sends a strong message that New York state is not a dumping ground for illegal waste disposal and violators will be brought to justice.”

“The defendants violated environmental protections for safely managing 800 tons of hazardous e-waste all to avoid the cost of proper disposal, posing a danger to the entire community,” said Special Agent in Charge with EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division Tyler Amon. “This case demonstrates that EPA and its New York DEC law enforcement partners will hold those who knowingly violate environmental laws criminally accountable for their actions.”

In 2015, a large amount of e-waste was abandoned at the Geneva Enterprise Development Center (GEDC) in Seneca County. The abandoned waste included television and computer monitors with Cathode Ray Tubes, which are hazardous and contain lead. In 2016, when Finger Lakes Cleanup and Recycling Consultants was hired to clean up the abandoned e-waste, Foster approached ALPCO owner Plumb, Jr. for assistance. Despite knowing that ALPCO did not have a permit and was not authorized to process hazardous waste, Foster, on behalf of his company, entered into an agreement with Plumb to process and dispose of the abandoned e-waste. Altogether, ALPCO unlawfully processed and disposed of 800 tons of e-waste from May 2016 to July 2016. The ALPCO site was subsequently remediated and all of the e-waste was properly disposed of at ALPCO’s cost.

Under New York Environmental Conservation Law, e-waste must be properly disposed of through the appropriate waste or recycling system. By law, a DEC solid waste facility registration must be completed and approved by DEC in order for an entity to lawfully process e-waste in New York State. Recently adopted regulations require electronic waste recycling facilities to submit closure plans and closure costs estimates that must be updated annually. The owner or operator of the electronic waste recycling facility must provide proof of financial assurance to DEC within 180 days of the registration approval. These regulations are in place to protect New York residents and the environment from improperly disposed of hazardous materials and e-waste.

Both Foster and Finger Lakes Cleanup and Recycling Consultants, pleaded guilty yesterday in Wayne County Court before the Hon. Richard M. Hea . Foster pleaded guilty to Unauthorized Possession, Disposal and Dealing in Hazardous Wastes (Class A misdemeanor) and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge. Finger Lakes Cleanup and Recycling Consultants pleaded guilty to Unlawful Dealing in Hazardous Wastes in the First Degree (Class E felony) and was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge. Additionally, they were both fined $5,000 each. 

Plumb and his company, ALPCO, previously pleaded guilty in Wayne County Court before the Hon. John B. Nesbitt to violating the state’s Environmental Conservation Law and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, and paid a $1,500 fine. ALPCO pleaded guilty to Unauthorized Possession, Disposal, and Dealing in Hazardous Wastes (Class A misdemeanor) and was sentenced to an unconditional discharge. Plumb also previously agreed to a DEC consent order, requiring him to pay $225,000 in civil penalties for Environmental Conservation Law and Permit violations.  

Attorney General James thanks DEC’s Police Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation and the EPA for their invaluable assistance in this investigation. 

The OAG investigation was conducted by Detective Joel Cordone, under the direction of Detective Supervisor Peter Fitzgerald, Assistant Chief Samuel Scotellaro, and Deputy Chief Juanita Bright of the Major Investigations Unit. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes.

The OAG case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew J. Tarkowski with the assistance of Assistant Attorney General Hugh L. McLean, Senior Analyst Joseph Conniff, Deputy Supervising Analyst Jayleen Garcia, and Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau (CEFC) is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. CEFC is a part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

DEC’s investigation, which began back in 2015, was conducted by Lieutenant Chris Didion and retired Investigators Jeff Lamphier and John Dobies.