The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that the owner of property in New York State and the owner of a New Jersey solid waste management company were found guilty by a federal jury 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.
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 violating 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.
“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,” says Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno.
According to the EPA and evidence it says was 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 also occurred without a permit, according to the EPA.
In a news release, the EPA says 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, evidence presented at the trial demonstrated that Mazza & Sons Inc. obstructed justice by destroying and concealing documents.
The conspiracy, substantive Superfund and false statement counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a substantial fine. The obstruction of justice count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and similar fines.