After a 10-day trial, the owner of 28 acres along the Mohawk River, along with the New Jersey owner of a solid waste management company, were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the United States and violating the federal Clean Water Act by illegally dumping large amounts of asbestos-containing debris on the upstate NY property.
According to an account of the trial and verdict in the North County Gazette, Cross Nicastro – who owned the property in the town of Frankfort, New York, and Dominick Mazza, owner of Mazza and Sons, Inc., were also convicted of violating federal Superfund laws because they failed to report the release of toxic materials. Mazza was also convicted of making false statements to an EPA special agent, resulting in a charge of obstruction of justice.
Charges against the two men were filed when it was discovered that they had dumped literally thousands of tons of demolition and construction debris on the property, which contains federally-regulated wetlands. There was no permit issued for the dumping. Asbestos, a known carcinogen that causes mesothelioma and other cancers, tends to release fibers when damaged or old, prompting concern about contamination of the wetlands and air, resulting in asbestos exposure for anyone who might have encountered the debris.
“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,” the article stated. Mazza and Sons, Inc. also destroyed and concealed documents responsive to a grand jury subpoena.
The Superfund, conspiracy, and false statement counts each carry a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of either $250,000, twice the gross gain to the defendants, or twice the gross loss to a victim, whichever is greater. The defendants also face up to 20 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charge as well as additional monetary fines.