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Press Release | NO. 2003-030

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Press Release # 030
Thursday, April 3, 2003

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer And Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty Announce Arrest Of 10 Individuals For Environmental Crimes

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced the arrest of 10 individuals for environmental crimes committed at four automotive junkyards in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. The subjects are charged with illegally dumping more than 20,000 gallons of motor oil, as well as large quantities of antifreeze, transmission fluid, and other toxic materials, onto the ground and into the New York City sewer system.

Commissioner Kelly said: "The impact of environmental crimes like these can be felt for years. These individuals caused significant damage to the city's sewer system while trying to make more profit on the cars they recycled. Now they will pay the price in prison. Our detectives in this case did a great job of investigating these criminals and ending their illegal operations."

Attorney General Spitzer said: "These defendants here displayed a disregard for both the law and the environment. By their use of their properties and the streets around them as a toxic waste dump, they
placed profit ahead of the law. This concerted effort by the criminal and civil divisions of my office will continue to ensure the law is enforced."

Commissioner Crotty said: "The multi-agency law enforcement investigation that resulted in these arrests sends a clear signal that violating environmental laws is not tolerated in New York. I want to
thank Commissioner Kelly, Attorney General Spitzer, and the New York City police officers and the Environmental Conservation officers for their efforts in this investigation which will ensure that the
environment and public health are better protected."

Today's arrests mark the culmination of "Operation Greenfield," which is part of a multi-agency investigation that began in July 2000. The first phase of the operation focused on environmental crimes committed at junkyards in the Willets Point section of Queens. In April 2001, that segment of the investigation ended with 33 arrests and 20 corporation felony indictments.

In July 2001, detectives launched the Canarsie, Brooklyn, phase of the operation. Police discovered illegal dumping activities at four junkyards: The Auto Gobbler at 5601-21 Preston Court; Jet II Auto Parts at 5710 Preston Court; A1A Auto Parts at 80-14 Preston Court; and, Andy's All Van at 5836 Preston Court.

Detectives from the NYPD's Auto Crimes Division and members of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police conducted thorough field surveillance on all four locations and installed four covert pole cameras at each site. After gathering sufficient evidence that thousands of gallons of toxic materials were being illegally dumped at each site, police executed four search warrants and collected samples of the hazardous materials.

The following were arrested:

Jon Serpico, 35, co-owner of A1A Auto Parts
Robert J. Serpico, 33, co-owner of A1A Auto Parts
Anthony Serpico, Jr., 36, co-owner of A1A Auto Parts
Lucious Lancaster, 44, employee of A1A Auto Parts
Robert Serpico, 43, manager of Andy's All Van
Vincent A. Ponzio, 32, manager of Jet II Auto Parts
Steve Hodgson, 47, employee of Jet II Auto Parts
Joseph V. Serpico, 43, owner of The Auto Gobbler
Emile Julmice, 51, employee of The Auto Gobbler
Luis E. Avilies, 45, employee of The Auto Gobbler

All 10 subjects are charged with Endangering Public Health, Safety or Environment - - a felony that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. Because they dumped toxic materials directly into the New York City sewer system, the subjects face additional fines of up to $50,000 per day of violation.

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