Florida Couple Pleads Guilty to Scheme to Evade $42 Million in Duties for Illegally Importing and Selling Plywood
The owner of a 28-acre piece of property on the Mohawk River and the owner of a New Jersey solid waste management company were found guilty by a federal jury in Utica, N.Y., today of charges that they conspired to defraud the United States and violate the Clean Water Act by illegally dumping thousands of tons of asbestos-contaminated construction debris on the property in upstate New York, announced Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Richard S. Hartunian, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York.
“Mazza and his co-conspirators flouted numerous federal laws designed to protect Americans from exposure to toxic materials when they dumped asbestos contaminated waste into an area that included sensitive wetlands. They also committed fraud and lied to federal investigators in the process,” said Assistant Attorney General Moreno. “This conviction is a just result because these men have been held accountable for egregious environmental crimes that harm human health and the environment.”
“Today’s verdict was brought about through the tireless efforts of those state and federal investigative agencies that work every day to protect the environment and health of our citizens” said U.S. Attorney Hartunian. “We applaud them for their hard work.”
The defendants, Cross Nicastro, owner of the property in Frankfort, N.Y., along with Mazza & Sons Inc., and its owner, Dominick Mazza, were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States, as well as violate the Clean Water Act and Superfund laws. In addition, Nicastro, Dominick Mazza and Mazza & Sons Inc. were convicted of violating the Superfund law’s requirement to report the release of toxic materials and obstructing justice. Dominick Mazza was also convicted of making false statements to EPA special agents.
According to evidence presented during the 10-day trial, the defendants engaged in the illegal dumping of thousands of tons of construction and demolition debris, much of which was contaminated with asbestos, at Nicastro’s property, which contained federally-regulated wetlands. The dumping occurred without a permit.
Evidence demonstrated that the defendants, along with co-conspirators, concealed the illegal dumping by fabricating a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permit and forging the name of a DEC official on the fraudulent permit. In addition, the evidence demonstrated that Mazza & Sons, Inc. obstructed justice by destroying and concealing documents responsive to a grand jury subpoena.
The conspiracy, substantive Superfund and false statement counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of either $250,000, twice the gross gain to the defendants, or twice the gross loss to a victim, whichever is determined to be greater. The obstruction of justice count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and similar fines.
This case was investigated by special agents from the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; criminal investigators with the New York State Environmental Conservation Police, Bureau of Environmental Crimes; investigators from the New Jersey State Police, Office of Business Integrity Unit; the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; and the Ohio Department of Environmental Protection. The case was prosecuted by Todd W. Gleason and Gary N. Donner of the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig A. Benedict, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.