30 Suspects Rounded Up In Scheme That Touched 24 Different Communities; DA Timothy Sini: 'What We're Dealing With Here Is An Epidemic'

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It sounded great. Offers on Craigslist said: “Clean fill for construction work.”

Long Island homeowners responded.

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What they got was contaminated and toxic hazardous materials unloaded into their yards, the Suffolk County district attorney told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan on Monday.

John Kerrigan was duped, plain and simple.

The Suffolk County DA announced a massive illegal dumping bust on Nov. 26, 2018. (Photo: CBS2)

A dirt broker who knocked on Kerrigan’s door claiming he had a huge truck load of clean fill — and for free — would unload the dirt on the Central Islip homeowner’s side half acre undergoing landscaping.

It turns out the fill consisted of toxic, hazardous construction and demolition debris that may have leached into his soil and now Kerrigan is unsettled about his health and financial future.

“I don’t know what the end result of this is going to be,” Kerrigan said.

“What we’re dealing with here is an epidemic of illegal dumping in Suffolk County,” District Attorney Timothy Sini said.

Suffolk County’s DA, police commissioner and environmental conservation leaders described a bust they call the largest in the state. In all, 30 truckers, carters, haulers, middle men and an alleged kingpin were rounded up and charged in a dumping scheme across 24 communities, CBS2’s McLogan reported.

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Stakeouts and surveillance led to wiretaps.

“This material sucks. It stinks. It smells. I’m burying it. You have to cut corners to make money,” one of the accused says on a recording.

“Like most people, I am appalled and I am disgusted,” Suffolk County homeowner Robin Deamicis said.

Deamicis is angry that the ring even targeted areas near picnic tables, barns and schools.

“They threw the waste in the ground and they covered it all up,” Deamicis said.

Long Island has already been jolted by the discovery of illegal dumping at Veterans Way housing complex, Roberto Clemente Park and the Pine Barrens. Now, officials have found that it has continued near a dog park.

“They should come down hard and harder if necessary to stop this. This is Long Island. We have limited ground water,” dog owner Arthur Bamel said.

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The suspects all proclaimed their innocence, but DA Sini said they will be fined up to $75,000 per load, and face jail time. Restitution will help pay for remediation.

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Union contractors say new regulations and limited capacity at waste management facilities have complicated the process for legal disposal, and could make illegal dumping a growing problem on Long Island.