Attorney General James and Governor Hochul Secure $8 Million Judgment Against Saugerties Property Owners for Illegal Pollution

Joseph and Rachel Karolys Will Be Required to Pay and Clean Up Three Properties After Repeatedly Ignoring Pollution Laws, Putting the Community’s Environment and Public Health At Risk

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Kathy Hochul today announced an $8 million judgment against Joseph and Rachel Karolys, the owners and operators of three separate properties in Saugerties for repeatedly violating pollution laws. Together with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Attorney General James sued the Karolyses in June 2020 for repeatedly accepting construction and demolition (C&D) material from the New York City metropolitan area at one of their sites, which was only authorized to receive waste from Ulster and Dutchess counties, and disposing of the C&D at the other two unauthorized sites. The Karolyses were also operating the sites without the required state water and pollution control permits. The Karolyses have since admitted to this illegal conduct and have now been ordered by the court to completely clean up the three sites and pay $8 million to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). 

“Our anti-pollution laws are designed to protect New Yorkers and our natural resources,” said Attorney General James. “Joseph and Rachel Karolys flagrantly violated those laws with no concern for the impact their illegal conduct would have on the surrounding Saugerties community, and now they must clean up the mess they made. My office will always uphold our environmental laws and protect New Yorkers’ health and safety.”

“The recently secured order illustrates the power of New York’s stringent environmental laws and should serve as a reminder that there are serious consequences for violations of laws designed to protect our environment,” said Governor Hochul. “I am thankful to Attorney General James and the Department of Environmental Conservation for holding these polluters responsible and upholding our solid waste requirements.”

“Joseph and Rachel Karolys repeatedly demonstrated a willful disregard for New York State law, and DEC took aggressive actions to protect our communities and hold these polluters accountable,” said DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar. “Illegal dumping can pose a serious threat to public health and the environment and is not tolerated in New York. I would like to recognize DEC’s legal team, Division of Law Enforcement, and staff for their diligence and dedicated investigative work to support our ongoing efforts to crack down on illegal dumping and thank Attorney General James and her staff for their hard work to help bring these polluters to justice.”

In July 2016, Joseph and Rachel Karolys registered with DEC to operate a solid waste management facility accepting C&D waste from Ulster and Dutchess counties. During inspections of the site, DEC noted activity that violated the registration and New York’s environmental laws, including the presence of unauthorized waste accepted from the New York City area and a lack of water pollution prevention measures. 

C&D waste from highly urbanized areas like New York City is more likely to be contaminated with petroleum or hazardous substances than waste material from less urbanized areas. Accepting unauthorized materials puts the community’s health and environment at risk.

Under the judgment announced today, the Karolyses must pay $8 million to OAG and clean up the pollution and other environmental hazards and violations at the sites. The funds will be used to address air, land, and water pollution in Ulster County.

In March 2023, Attorney General James and DEC filed a lawsuit against waste haulers and brokers for illegally dumping waste at a Karolys site. Over a period of three years, 29 waste transporters and waste brokers unlawfully transported more than 3,000 loads — approximately 100,000 cubic yards — of C&D waste from multiple construction sites in New York City and Long Island to the Karolyses’ site.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Marie Chery-Sekhobo, Brendan McGrath, and Rachel Maman Kish of the Environmental Protection Bureau under the supervision of Affirmative Litigation Section Chief Morgan Costello, Deputy Bureau Chief Lisa Burianek, and Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. Additional support was provided by Legal Assistants Bonnie Maynard-Wilson and Kathleen Yuhas.  

The investigation in this matter was handled by Investigators Mark Rudd and Donald Anselment of the Investigations Bureau, which is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes.

Numerous DEC investigators and staff, including Regional Attorney Ashley Johnson and Regional Engineer David Pollock under the supervision of Regional Director Kelly Turturro, also contributed to this investigation and enforcement action. 

The Environmental Protection Bureau is part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux. The Investigations Bureau is part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado. Both the Division for Social Justice and the Division for Criminal Justice are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.