Two Sentenced in New York State for Dumping Thousands of Tons of Asbestos in Violation of the Clean Water Act
Two individuals, Donald Torriero and Julius DeSimone, were sentenced in federal court in Utica, N.Y., for illegally dumping thousands of tons of asbestos-contaminated construction debris on a 28-acre piece of property on the Mohawk River in upstate New York, the Justice Department announced.
U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd sentenced Torriero to serve 36 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Torriero was immediately remanded into custody of the U.S. Marshals. DeSimone was sentenced to five years’ probation, including six months of home confinement. Both were ordered to pay $492,000 in restitution for, among other things, cleanup expenses at the site.
The two pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act, the Superfund statute, wire fraud and to defrauding the United States. In addition, Torriero pleaded guilty to substantive wire fraud charges, and DeSimone was convicted of making false statements to law enforcement in connection with a fabricated "permit letter" the conspirators created and used to dump at the site.
According to the evidence, Torriero, DeSimone and others conspired to fill in the entire property over the course of five years with pulverized construction and demolition debris that was processed at New Jersey solid waste management facilities and then transported to open property in Frankfort, N.Y. The plot was uncovered by law enforcement just months after the operation began, but not before the conspirators had already dumped at least 400 truckloads of debris at the site. Much of the material that was dumped was placed in and around waters of the United States and some of the material was found to be contaminated with asbestos. The conspirators then concealed the illegal dumping and recruited others to join in the illegal dumping by fabricating a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permit and forged the name of a DEC official on the fraudulent permit.
“Torriero and DeSimone endangered the health of both their fellow citizens and sensitive wetlands by violating numerous laws meant to ensure the proper disposal of toxic materials. They also committed other criminal acts in their attempts to cover up their misdeeds,” stated Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert Dreher of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Holding these men responsible for their criminal activities will serve as notice to others involved in similar schemes that the Justice Department will not tolerate such flagrant disregard for the law and the environment.”
“Asbestos can cause cancer and other serious respiratory diseases; there is no safe level of exposure to it,” said Vernesa Jones-Allen, Acting Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New York. “The defendants in this case conspired to illegally dispose asbestos containing material. This case demonstrates that the American people will not tolerate those who make money by breaking the law and damage the environment.”
“This case demonstrates the commitment of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to work together to protect the environment and the health of the citizens we serve,” said Richard S. Hartunian, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York. “I commend all the law enforcement officers involved in this case for their hard work in bringing Torriero and DeSimone to justice.”
“The disposal of hazardous materials is closely regulated in New York State to protect public health and our environment,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens. “The forgery of permits by the defendants in this case was a blatant and potentially dangerous criminal act that undermined the integrity of the permit system. I applaud the collaborative work of DEC investigators and partners to halt this illegal dumping, apprehend the perpetrators, and bring them to justice.”
This case is related to the guilty pleas and sentencings associated with Eagle Recycling, Mazza & Sons Inc., Dominick Mazza, Cross Nicastro and Jon Deck. Mr. Deck is the last remaining individual awaiting sentencing.
This case was investigated by the New York State Environmental Conservation Police, Bureau of Environmental Crimes, EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, Internal Revenue Service, New Jersey State Police Office of Business Integrity Unit, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Ohio Department of Environmental Protection. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig A. Benedict of the Northern District of New York, and Trial Attorneys Todd W. Gleason and Gary Donner of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.