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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A&L Cesspool Service Corporation Pleads Guilty To Felony Clean Water Act Violations And Pays $900,000 In Penalties To Resolve Charges Relating To Wastewater Dumping In The Gowanus Canal And Elsewhere

Pleads Guilty to Six-Count Information Alleging Unlawful Dumping of Pumped Sewer Waste

Earlier today, A&L Cesspool Service Corporation (A&L Cesspool), a Queens-based cesspool services company, pled guilty at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, to violating the Clean Water Act by dumping waste removed from blocked sewer lines into manholes that flowed directly into the Gowanus Canal, among other locations in New York City.  The guilty plea was taken by U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser, who immediately following the plea sentenced the company to two years’ probation and criminal financial penalties totaling $900,000, pursuant to a plea agreement entered by the company and the government.

The guilty plea and sentence were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Vernesa Jones-Allen, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigations Division, New York (EPA). 

According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, A&L Cesspool is one of the largest cesspool service providers in New York City.  Among other services, A&L Cesspool clears blocked sewer lines by pumping and removing waste.  A&L Cesspool held a permit issued by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection that allowed it to dispose of liquid waste removed from sewer lines at designated wastewater treatment facilities.  Rather than following the rules set forth in the permit, however, employees of A&L Cesspool repeatedly dumped liquid waste at other locations, including into various manholes at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, a New York City Housing Authority housing development in Brooklyn, and into the Gowanus Canal.

Under the Clean Water Act, it is a crime for anyone to knowingly dump pollutants into a waterway of the United States without a permit or in violation of a permit.  As part of the plea resolution, A&L Cesspool pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging the company with one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act, one count of unlawfully discharging pollutants into a waterway of the United States, namely, the Gowanus Canal, without a permit, and four counts of illegally dumping pumped sewer waste in violation of its permit. 

The financial penalties imposed by the court include a $375,000 fine, $350,000 in criminal forfeiture, and a $175,000 community service payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to be used toward projects in or directly benefiting the Gowanus area of Brooklyn. 

“Today’s felony guilty plea and sentence demonstrate that polluters face serious consequences for violating the Clean Water Act,” stated United States Attorney Capers.  “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting businesses who ignore their obligation to keep our waterways clean.”

“Environmental laws, such as those violated by A&L Cesspool, are put in place to protect us from grossly negligent practices that threaten the cleanliness of our communities and put the public’s health at risk.  Circumventing procedures to properly dispose of pollutants is a serious crime, and those who engage in this type of activity won’t get away with it,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. 

“Waste that is disposed of illegally jeopardizes the health and safety of the entire community, so it’s imperative that septic haulers adhere to the appropriate waste disposal regulations and laws,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Jones-Allen of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in New York.  “EPA and its law enforcement partners will continue to pursue those who undermine our efforts to protect public health, and those who ignore the law must be held to account.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Integrity Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Lan Nguyen and Lauren Howard Elbert are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Morris of the Office’s Civil Division, which is responsible for the forfeiture of assets.

The Defendant Company

A&L Cesspool Service Corporation
Queens, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-524 (ILG)

Topic: 
Environment
Updated October 26, 2016