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Grand Jury Report Leads to Proposed Environmental Crimes Law

January 23, 2020

The catchy name – “Operation Pay Dirt” – was in actuality a quite serious multi-agency investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and the Suffolk County Police Department into the disposal of solid waste and construction and demolition materials at various residential and commercial sites on Long Island. On July 18, 2018, a special grand jury was empaneled in Suffolk County in connection with that investigation.

The grand jury heard testimony from 48 witnesses and evaluated 420 exhibits. Its investigation resulted in a 130-count indictment unsealed in November 2018 charging 30 individuals and nine corporations with illegally disposing of solid waste at 24 locations on Long Island. Another five-count indictment was issued against another corporation. See News Release, Suffolk County DA Office, DA Sini, NYS DEC and SCPD Announce 130-Count Indictment in “Operation Pay Dirt,” (Nov. 26, 2018).

The grand jury’s work, however, was not finished. In a second phase, the grand jury heard from eight additional witnesses and considered 35 additional exhibits. Then, on August 2, 2019, the grand jury issued a 90-page report on illegal dumping on Long Island, as well as the environmental harm it found to be caused by that activity. See Grand Jury Report (Aug. 2, 2019).

Charlotte A. Biblow, a partner in the environmental, land use and municipal law and litigation departments of Farrell Fritz, can be reached at cbiblow@farrellfritz.com.

Reprinted with permission from New York Law Journal, Thursday, January 23, 2020, Vol 263 – No. 15.

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