Thirty people and nine corporations have been charged in a 130-count indictment alleging what Suffolk County authorities described as the largest dumping conspiracy bust in New York State history.
The accused illegally dumped solid waste at 24 locations across Long Island since February, according to investigators who conducted stakeouts and used wiretaps to make their case. The central figure was identified as Anthony “Rock” Grazio, 53, of Smithtown, the “dirt broker” who allegedly arranged locations where trucking companies could illegally dispose of solid waste.
“What we’re dealing with here is an epidemic of illegal dumping in Suffolk County,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “It’s gone on far too long, and our message is very clear: we will not tolerate this criminal conduct in our county.”
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Suffolk County police were part of the months-long joint investigation dubbed “Operation Pay Dirt.”
Grazio posted advertisements on Craigslist for “clean fill” for landscaping projects and solicited homeowners over the phone and in person for locations to use for dumping, prosecutors said.
The material that was illegally dumped came from recycling and transfer stations located in New York City and Long Island. It was then transported and dumped at the sites by trucking companies.
“This scam was all about making money,” Sini said. “They did this to save on operating costs, and they did it at the expense of the health of our residents.”
DEC tests of the dump sites found that six of the locations contained acutely hazardous substances and 17 of the locations contained hazardous substances including metals such as cobalt, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc and mercury, as well as pesticides aldrin, dieldrin and heptachlor.
Nineteen of the 24 locations are residential, four are commercial, and one is a school. The solid waste dumped at the school was immediately removed.
“Illegal solid waste dumping poses a serious threat to New York’s environment and burdens communities across Long Island,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
“This case sends a message that we will not tolerate the dumping of prohibited materials into our communities,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.
The top count of the indictment is second-degree criminal mischief, a felony, which carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison.