Two men who were involved in a scheme to illegally dump asbestos on wetlands in upstate New York have been sentenced and fined by the U.S. Attorney’s Office this week. Donald Torriero was sentenced to serve 36 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Julius DeSimone received a sentence of five years’ probation, including six months of home confinement. The men also will pay a fine of close to $500,000 in restitution, part of which will be used for cleanup expenses at the dump site.

The men were part of a scheme uncovered by law enforcement earlier this year, in which Torriro and DeSimone conspired with others to fill a 28-acre piece of property in upstate New York with construction and demolition debris. The debris was processed at a solid waste management facility in New Jersey and transported to the property in Frankfort, N.Y., which is adjacent to the Mohawk River. Much of the debris was contaminated with asbestos.

Asbestos exposure – even in small amounts – has been linked to the development of mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. Mesothelioma most often affects the lining of the lungs or the abdomen. Rarely, it also can affect the lining of the heart. There is no known cure for mesothelioma. Asbestos also can cause other serious diseases like asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs.

Torririo and DeSimone pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act, the Superfund statute, wire fraud and defrauding the U.S. Government. The conspirators concealed the illegal dumping in part by forging a New York State of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permit, as well as forging the name of a DEC official on the phony permit.

In June, a federal court in Utica, N.Y., sentenced Mazza & Sons Inc. and its owner Dominick Mazza, along with property owner Cross Nicastro, in the illegal dumping scheme. The case also names Eagle Recycling and Jon Deck. Deck pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

In a U.S. Department of Justice news release, Vernesa Jones-Allen, Acting Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New York, says, “Asbestos can cause cancer and other serious respiratory diseases; there is no safe level of exposure to it. 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.”

It is estimated about 400 truckloads of asbestos-contaminated waste was dumped on the wetlands property before the scheme was discovered and stopped.

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.

NBC40 / Associated Press
U.S. Department of Justice

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