DA SINI: DIRT BROKER IN “OPERATION PAY DIRT,” LARGEST ILLEGAL DUMPING CASE IN NY STATE HISTORY, SENTENCED TO PRISON
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini was joined by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) and the Suffolk County Police Department today 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 wellbeing of Suffolk County residents, facilitated the dumping of solid waste on residential properties, properties near schools, and other sites,” District Attorney 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.”
“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 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 department is not only committed to serving our residents; we are committing to protecting the land that makes our communities a great place to live.”
Anthony Grazio, a/k/a 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.
In February 2018, the District Attorney’s Office, DEC and Suffolk 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, which was unsealed in November 2018.
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.
“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message: it does not pay to commit environmental crimes in Suffolk County any longer,” District Attorney Sini said. “We are going to dedicate the necessary resources and work with all of our partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute environmental crimes.”
“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.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Adriana Noyola and Laura Sarowitz of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau and former Assistant District Attorney Luigi Belcastro.