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For Release: Wednesday, December 11, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Recent ECO Actions for Late November to Early December

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.

In 2018, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 21,668 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 20,665 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred, please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

"From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York's environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don't receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment."

Albion Man Sentenced for Illegal Dumping - Genesee County
On Nov. 27, Carl J. Rivers of Albion, Orleans County, was sentenced to one to three years in prison for his role in illegally dumping asbestos waste in Genesee County. The charges followed an investigation conducted by DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) into the illegal dumping of approximately 20 bags of friable asbestos and other household and demolition debris. The crime occurred on the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area in the town of Alabama in May 2018. With forensic evidence obtained from the illegal dump site, investigators identified Rivers as a person of interest. During an interview with investigators, Rivers admitted to dumping the asbestos waste and the other debris and he was arrested on Jan. 3, 2019. In addition to the prison sentence, Rivers is required to pay restitution to the State in the amount of $13,347.07 for cleanup costs, and $667.35 in surcharges. BECI lead investigator, Mark Wojtkowiak, worked closely with the Genesee County District Attorney's office on the prosecution of this case. Also assisting in the investigation was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division, New York State Department of Labor's Asbestos Control Bureau, and DEC's Division of Law Enforcement Environmental Forensic Unit.

pile of bags filled with debris that were illegally dumped
Illegal dumping at Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area

Injured Owl Rescue - Sullivan County
On Nov. 30, ECO John Walraven received a call from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office requesting assistance for an injured owl in the village of Monticello. The owl was struck by a vehicle and was having difficulty flying. ECO Walraven rescued the owl and transported it to a local wildlife rehabilitator for medical treatment and recovery.

Hurt owl resting in a container to be brought to a wildlife rehabilitator
Injured owl rescued and brought for treatment

Arrest Made in Adirondack Moose Killing Case - Franklin County
On Dec. 4, ECOs charged Zachary Vaughn, 26, of Saranac, Clinton County, with numerous counts related to the killing of a moose in the town of Franklin, Franklin County, following a month-long DEC investigation. Vaughn was charged with four misdemeanors: taking of a moose; possessing a loaded firearm in a vehicle; use of an artificial light in a vehicle while in possession of firearm; and hunting deer with the aid of an artificial light. He also was charged with three additional violations. Vaughn is scheduled to appear before the Town of Franklin Criminal Court on Dec.19, and faces a maximum penalty of $9,725 in fines and up to one year imprisonment.

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