ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Wiretaps and elaborate eavesdropping equipment helped crack what Suffolk County prosecutors say was the largest illegal dumping scheme prosecuted in New York state history.
The accused ringleader appeared in a Riverhead courtroom on Monday for sentencing, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, it will cost $56,000 to clean and abate the illegally dumped hazardous waste in John Kerrigan’s Islip yard.
“He doesn’t realize how much he affected people’s lives,” Kerrigan said.
“He” is Anthony Grazio, aka “Rock,” a contractor from Smithtown. Prosecutors say he was the ringleader of a dumping scheme that led to contaminated fill being left at 21 homes, businesses and schools across Long Island.
Grazio’s voice captured on eavesdropping surveillance led to his arrest, prosecutors said.
“This material sucks. It stinks. It smells. I’m burying it. You have to cut corners to make money,” he is heard on tape saying.
On Monday, Grazio spoke publicly for the first time.
“I apologize deeply to the people of Suffolk County and to anyone who did receive the material,” Grazio said. “I just want them to know it was not done intentionally.”
But Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini says it was intentional. The motive: greed. He characterized Grazio as part of a dirt-broking network, guilty of the largest illegal dumping case New York has ever seen.
“This case sends a real message to those who think they can treat Suffolk County as their personal dumping ground,” Sini said.
Grazio will serve 2-4 years in an upstate prison. The sentence is believed to be a first for such an environmental conviction.
“Mr. Grazio and his family are happy to move on from this case. He is accepting criminal liability,” defense attorney James Vlahadmis said.
The tainted construction debris was dumped at ball fields and on properties where homeowners needed landscaping dirt.
Union contractors say new regulations and limited capacity at waste management facilities have complicated the process for legal disposal and could soon make illegal dumping an even bigger problem on Long Island.
Victim Kerrigan is now unsettled about his health and financial future.
Due to a family health issue on Monday, Grazio will be formally sentenced on Sept. 23 and begin his prison sentence then.