For Release: Thursday, December 29, 2011
Two Found Guilty in Civil and Criminal Contempt Stormwater Case
Pair to Pay $135,000 in Fines
On December 9, the New York State Supreme Court in Greene County found Fless 5 Development, Inc. and its CEO Shane Klein of Brooklyn guilty of criminal and civil contempt by virtue of their violation of a court-ordered stipulation that required the defendants to comply with stormwater permitting requirements, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.
The court found that the two defendants failed to complete seven site stabilization measures, failed to hire a qualified engineer to conduct site inspections, and failed to submit required stormwater retention pond evaluation plans by the deadlines agreed to in the court-ordered stipulation. The stormwater permitting violations occurred in the town of Hunter, Greene County.
"We are pleased the court affirmed the need to act responsibly when dealing with stormwater run off and erosion controls," Martens said. "Corporations and individuals must not defy the law and cut corners in protecting the state's water quality. Violators like these whose actions degrade our state's environment must be held accountable. Thanks to the collaborative effort between DEC, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Attorney General's Office we were able to address this long-standing environmental offense."
The court ordered Fless 5 Development to pay $75,000 ($37,500 to DEC and $37,500 to DEP) for failure to complete several stormwater practices that would stabilize construction at the site. The lack of any erosion and sediment controls at the site resulted in substantial water quality violations that impacted several waterbodies including the Schoharie Creek. Prior to resorting to court enforced remedies, DEP worked with the defendants to implement appropriate stormwater measures for nearly three years.
"The Court's decision sends a strong message that compliance with state water pollution laws is not optional," said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. "I'd like to thank our partners, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, for their efforts in securing this order."
"New York City's upstate reservoirs supply half the state's population with the best drinking water in the world," said DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland. "Because the value of protecting this invaluable resource cannot be understated, DEP provides technical advice and guidance to local businesses and individuals to ensure they are complying with DEP's regulations. However, when necessary, we will pursue available legal remedies to protect this resource on behalf of our customers, and I want to thank the New York City Law Department, DEC and the Attorney General's Office for enforcing the laws that are so critical to water quality."
Shane Klein was ordered to pay $50,000 for the civil contempt charge because he signed the court-ordered stipulation that the court found was violated and therefore Klein was held personally liable for his acts. Both Klein and Fless 5 Development were also ordered to pay an additional $10,000 criminal contempt fine for failure to comply with the court-ordered stipulation.
This case is the result of a cooperative agreement between DEC and DEP to conduct stormwater enforcement in the New York City watershed. DEC and DEP have independent authority in the New York City watershed to investigate and address violations of certain provisions of federal, state and New York City law. This agreement allows DEC and DEP to better use their respective resources by eliminating duplication of efforts in the investigation and enforcement of environmental rules and regulations.
The violations in this case date back to 2006 and have been on-going since that time. The $50,000 fine Shane Klein must pay will be used to hire a contractor to do the work necessary to bring the site into full compliance with stormwater regulations. The case was argued for DEC by Assistant Attorney General Michael Myers and by Linda Geary of the New York City Law Department for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.