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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
July 26, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 

Attorney General’s Office Continues Investigation & Prosecution of Urban Environmental Crime
Urban Environmental Initiative Targets Illegal Dumping in Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities
Criminal Indictments Charge Illegal Dumping In Hudson and Passaic Counties
Essex County Garbage Hauler Sentenced to 3 Years in State Prison...
$40,000 in Fines Paid to State Spill Fund...

TRENTON — New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced that the Attorney General’s Urban Environmental Initiative continues to successfully investigate and prosecute urban environmental crime with a series of indictments charging contractors and waste haulers with dumping construction debris in Hudson and Passaic counties; the sentencing of a freelance garbage hauler to three years in state prison; and more than $40,000 in criminal fines and penalties directed to the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund.

The Attorney General noted that recent prosecutions by the Urban Environmental Initiative include the criminal indictment of several freelance garbage haulers on charges of collecting and illegally dumping construction debris in Hudson and Passaic counties; the indictment of the owner of a New York plastics company on charges of abandoning hazardous waste at the Paterson Farmer’s Market; and the sentencing of an Essex County garbage hauler convicted of dumping hundreds of tires in the Meadowlands to three years in state prison.

“The Urban Environmental Initiative is committed to protecting urban communities from the illegal, unscrupulous, and often dangerous practice of dumping debris and hazardous materials in or near residential communities and neighborhoods,” Attorney General Harvey said.

“As our cities and urban areas undergo renovation and rebuilding, there will be those who try to cut corners and improperly dispose of demolition debris, solid waste, and hazardous and toxic chemicals in back lots and alleyways. The Attorney General’s Office is determined that New Jersey’s communities will not be dumping grounds and that the residents living in urban settings are not the forgotten New Jerseyans,” Harvey said.

Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice, said the Environmental Crimes Bureau recently obtained criminal indictments on environmental-related charges and secured the sentencing of several defendants convicted of environmental crimes:

  • A State Grand Jury indictment charged Andrey Milner, 39, Ryle Avenue, Paterson, Passaic County, with the illegal disposal of solid waste, bribery, and criminal mischief. The indictment charged that on May 17, 2005, Milner was observed by a supervisor from the Paterson Department of Public Works dumping debris at 700 21st Avenue in Paterson. It is alleged that Milner approached the DPW supervisor and offered money to ignore the illegal dumping. The DPW supervisor refused and contacted the Paterson Police Department. The indictment charges that Milner, in an effort to escape, crashed into the DPW vehicle. Investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice - Environmental Crimes Bureau determined that the dumped debris included garbage, refuse, and construction material. The State Grand Jury indictment was handed-up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg on June 24. A complaint summons will order Milner to appear in Passaic County Superior Court for arraignment and bail. Milner faces more than ten years in state prison and a fine of up to $40,000 upon any conviction. The Paterson Department of Public Works and the Paterson Police Department assisted in the investigation.
  • State Grand Jury indictment charging Derrick Venable, 39, Minerva Street, Jersey City, Hudson County, with the illegal disposal of solid waste. The indictment charged that on April 4, 2005, Venable, a freelance garbage hauler, illegally dumped more than ten cubic yards of construction debris at the corner of Berry Lane and Communipaw Avenue in Jersey City. The Jersey City Incinerator Authority responded to the scene and determined that the debris came from a construction site located at 103 Crescent Ave. The indictment was handed-up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg on June 24. A complaint summons will require that Venable appear in Hudson County Superior Court for arraignment and bail. If convicted, Venable faces up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The Jersey City Incinerator Authority and the Jersey City Police Department assisted in the investigation.
  • State Grand Jury indictment of Donald A. Stewart, 51, Jewett Avenue, Jersey City, Hudson County and Shawn R. Coar, 45, Summit Avenue, Jersey City, Hudson County, on a charge of unlawful collection of solid waste. The indictment alleged that on Feb. 14, 2005, an Enforcement Officer assigned to the Hudson County Improvement Authority - Division of Enforcement (HCIA), observed two men loading construction and demolition debris into a U-Haul vehicle which did not have Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) registration decals. The HCIA officer contacted the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office. The Hudson County Sheriff determined that the U-Haul had been reported stolen from an E. Orange U-Haul Rent-a-Center in November, 2004. Stewart and Coar were arrested and charged with receiving stolen property. The State Grand Jury indictment was handed-up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg on June 24.
  • Stewart and Coar will be issued a complaint summons and will be required to appear in Hudson County Superior Court for arraignment and bail. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The Hudson County Improvement Authority and the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.
  • A State Grand Jury indictment charged Leonard Mermelstein, 66, 47th Street, Brooklyn, NY, the owner/operator of Paterson Poly Plastics Company, with the transportation of hazardous waste without a permit and criminal mischief. The indictment alleges that Mermelstein, under a New York court order to clean-up debris at an industrial yard located at 185 Riverdale Ave., Yonkers, NY, filled a tractor-trailer with contaminated soil and debris and ordered an employee to drive the material to a rented industrial yard located on Kentucky Avenue in Paterson. It is charged that the trailer remained at the Kentucky Avenue location from May - December, 2003. The trailer was then moved to the Paterson Farmer’s Market area where it was abandoned in Dec., 2003. Analysis of the soil and debris located inside the trailer determined that the material was hazardous (37.5 ppm TCLP lead). The New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund paid $22,347 to remove and properly dispose of the material. The State Grand Jury indictment was handed-up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg on June 17. Mermelstein will be issued a complaint summons to appear in Passaic County Superior Court for arraignment and bail. If convicted, Mermelstein faces more than five years in state prison, a fine of up to $25,000, and clean-up costs. The Paterson Police Department assisted in the investigation.
  • The Environmental Crimes Bureau secured the sentencing of Union County resident Elton Ren Williams, 46, Madison Avenue, Elizabeth, in mid-June. Williams was sentenced to three years in state prison for dumping more than 500 tires near the Newark Airport. The sentence, imposed by Essex County Superior Court Judge Donald J. Volkert, was the first prison sentence imposed under the 2004 New Jersey Solid Waste Crimes law which increased penalties associated with illegal dumping. The law created a second degree crime (five to ten years in state prison) for knowingly transporting or disposing solid waste at unauthorized locations. Williams, a freelance garbage hauler, pleaded guilty to illegally dumping tires and auto repair shop wastes such as oil and grease, at a vacant site located off Routes 1 & 9 in Newark. The investigation uncovered a large number of discarded tires, cardboard boxes containing various automotive parts, containers of antifreeze, brake fluid, oil, rags and related automotive wastes strewn over a large area along the outskirts of the Newark Airport and the Meadowlands.
  • In June, Union County Superior Court Judge Scott J. Moynihan ordered the owner of a Roselle, Union County, trucking company to repay the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund $32,000 after pleading guilty to using stolen trailers to abandon drums of toxic waste on the streets of Elizabeth. In pleading guilty on
  • May 22 to a charge of abandoning toxic pollutants, Joseph Armstrong, 45, Thompson Street, Roselle, Union County, the owner/President of Dock Bumpers, Inc., 1120 Walnut Street, Roselle, admitted that he stole a tractor trailer, loaded the trailer with twelve 55-gallon drums of waste oil and other substances, including toxic pollutants such as lead, zinc and copper, and abandoned the trailer on Julia Street in Elizabeth. Armstrong was also sentenced to 120 days in the Union County Jail.

The Urban Environmental Initiative represents a partnership between the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Compliance and Enforcement Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice - Environmental Crimes Bureau. The initiative is geared to response, investigation and prosecution of environmental crimes in urban, suburban and rural communities and industrial areas and targets criminal activity such as the illegal dumping of construction debris and other solid waste, illegal discharges of pollutants into waterways and the air, and other activities which negatively impact the quality of life for residents in urban neighborhoods and communities.

The investigations and prosecutions were coordinated by Supervising Deputy Attorney General Edward Bonanno and Deputy Attorney’s General Bruce Kmosko, Robert Donovan, Betty Rodriquez, Phillip Leahy, and John Higgins. Acting Supervising State Investigator Jeffrey Gross and State Investigators, Stephen Politowski, Dawn Ryan, Steven Ogulin, Jeffrey Hill, and Stephen Coraggio conducted the investigations. All are assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Environmental Crimes Bureau.

Attorney General Harvey said that the key to a successful enforcement initiative against illegal dumpers must include the “eyes and ears” of neighborhood residents and community watch groups reporting suspicious activities. The DEP maintains a 24-Hour Environmental Hot Line -- 609-292-7172 -- to receive reports of environmental crimes. Information regarding environmental enforcement activities can be obtained by logging on to the Division of Criminal Justice web page at www.njdcj.org or the Department of Environmental Protection Web site at www.state.nj.us/dep.

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