Scheme one of the state’s largest
Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) was joined by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Police Department on Sept. 23 to announce the sentencing of a self-proclaimed “dirt broker” who was indicted as part of the District Attorney’s Office’s Operation Pay Dirt investigation into an illegal dumping conspiracy on Long Island.
“The defendant, with no regard for the safety and well-being of Suffolk County residents, facilitated the dumping of solid waste on residential properties, properties near schools, and other sites,” Sini said. “Many of the sites contained materials that were hazardous or acutely hazardous. This is a major issue for those individual homeowners who were affected and a major issue for the general public.”
“This sentencing should serve as a reminder that there is a cost associated for those who engage in illegal dumping for financial gain.”
— Geraldine Hart
Anthony Grazio, aka Rock, 54, of Smithtown, pleaded guilty on May 2 to two counts of criminal mischief in the second degree, a D felony; two counts of endangering public health, safety or the environment in the third degree, an E felony; conspiracy in the fifth degree, an A misdemeanor; and operating a solid waste management facility without a permit, an A misdemeanor.
Grazio was sentenced today by Suffolk County Court Judge Timothy Mazzei to two to four years in prison. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $500,000 for a crime that the DA has previously stated is the state’s largest illegal dumping case.
In February 2018, the DA’s office, DEC and county police department began an investigation into a conspiracy to illegally dump solid waste in various locations across Long Island. The months-long investigation, known as Operation Pay Dirt, involved the use of electronic surveillance, including court-authorized eavesdropping, and physical surveillance. The investigation resulted in a 130-count indictment against 30 individuals and nine corporations for illegally disposing of solid waste at 24 locations. Grazio’s then 19-year old son Anthony was among the 30 people indicted in the case, which was unsealed in November 2018.
Some of the more than 24 identified locations contained acutely hazardous and hazardous materials including pesticides and the metals arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc and mercury and pesticides.
Between January and July 2018, as part of the illegal dumping conspiracy, Grazio would act as a dirt broker by arranging for locations where trucking companies could illegally dispose of solid waste. Grazio posted advertisements on the website Craigslist and on OfferUp, a marketplace app, for “Clean Fill,” or material that could be used for residential landscaping projects. He also solicited homeowners over the phone and in person for locations to use for dumping.
Grazio would then coordinate with the owners or operators of trucking companies and solid waste management facilities to have solid waste illegally dumped at those properties.
“This sentencing should serve as a reminder that there is a cost associated for those who engage in illegal dumping for financial gain,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “The Suffolk County Police Department is committed to working with our partner agencies to apprehend those who commit environmental crimes in our county and Operation Pay Dirt is an example of the success of our collaborative efforts.”
The commissioner also said that the department is not only committed to serving our residents but also dedicated to protecting the land that makes our communities a great place to live.
Operation Pay Dirt was part of a statewide DEC law enforcement initiative known as Operation TrashNet. To date, Operation TrashNet has led to the discovery of more than 100 illegal dumping sites throughout New York’s downstate region, including 44 in Suffolk County, and resulted in 582 DEC-issued tickets involving 40 trucking companies.
“Illegal dumping poses a serious threat to our environment, and New York will not allow businesses to continue to harm the state’s environment and its citizens while putting profits over public health,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “I commend the work of DEC’s officers and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in bringing this case to fruition.”
This case was prosecuted by assistant DAs Adriana Noyola and Laura Sarowitz of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau and former assistant DA Luigi Belcastro.