A.G. Busts Owner Of Brooklyn Oil Tank Cleaning Company And Driver For Abandoning Five Tanker Trailers Filled With Waste Oil On Brooklyn Streets
Owner And Driver Indicted On Felony Environmental Crimes For Leaving Thousands Of Gallons Of Hazardous Substances On Streets Across The Borough
Schneiderman: Acts Which Endanger Our Communities Will Not Be Tolerated
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New YorkState Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martenstoday announced a felony indictment against Patrick McAteer, of Morganville, N.J., and Roberto Iengo, of Queens, for their role in the systematic abandonment of five tanker trailers each filled with thousands of gallons of waste oil substances throughout Brooklyn. The men face up to 15 years in prison.
“This crime was particularly insidious. To dodge the costs of doing business and gain a competitive advantage, the defendants deliberately circumvented environmental laws, endangering city residents and their homes,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We’ve discovered their scheme and will do everything in our power to make sure justice is served.”
It is alleged that, from January 2012 to March 2012, in violation of state laws, McAteer, 45, drove stolen tanker trailers from New Jersey to a business owned by Iengo, ABC Tank Repair & Lining Inc., at 280 East 88th Street, in Canarsie, Brooklyn. There, Iengo, 43, ordered his employees to fill the empty tankers with heavy, sludgy waste oil that had been collected and stored at the commercial facility for years.
Iengo paid McAteer $1,500 per tanker to drive the waste oil-laden vehicles to random locations in Brooklyn and abandon them on public streets, including in Canarsie and Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and Kensington.
State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, "DEC investigators worked tirelessly on this case to identify the perpetrators and stop the illegal transport and disposal of hazardous waste materials in New York. Their efforts in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, were vital to protecting public health, safety and the environment, and we are pleased that justice has been served."
By law, the disposal of hazardous substances is closely regulated by DEC. Even small releases of petroleum and other hazardous substances have the potential to endanger the public health and contaminate groundwater, surface water, and soils. Hazardous substances such as oil can seep into the groundwater, which can make water supplies unsafe to drink. Additionally, vapors from spilled materials can collect in houses and businesses, creating fire and explosion hazards. Moreover, uncontained spills, especially those that impact surface water, can kill or injure plants, fish, and wildlife, and cause damage to their habitats.
According to court documents, it was March 20, 2012, when investigators observed McAteer, in the vicinity of ABC Tank, connect a truck to a stolen Polar tanker trailer. That tanker trailor was later found abandoned in the vicinity of ABC filled with dark brownish-black, thick and sludgy waste oil. He was apprehended shortly after he abandoned the tanker.
According to notices filed by prosecutors, McAteer admitted to investigators that between December 2011 and March 2012, he stole several empty tanker trailers, including the Polar Tanker, from truck lots in New Jersey. The admissions show that Iengo told McAteer that he had waste oil that he needed to dispose of and that he offered McAteer money to make the waste oil “disappear.”
McAteer admitted that he abandoned the stolen waste-oil filled tankers in Brooklyn. Iengo also admitted to investigators that he was trying to save money by enlisting McAteer to dispose of old, thick waste oil that had been sitting in his business warehouse for several years.
It is alleged that Iengo paid McAteer $1,500 for each stolen trailer that McAteer brought to ABC Tank and subsequently abandoned after Iengo and his employees loaded it with waste oil.
The grand jury charged both McAteer and Iengo with numerous felonies committed from January through March of 2012, including Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (P.L. § 165.52, a Class C Felony); Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (P.L. § 165.50, a Class D Felony); Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the First Degree (P.L. § 165.08, a Class D Felony); Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Second Degree (E.C.L. § 71-2713(3), a Class D Felony); Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Third Degree (E.C.L. § 71-2712(2), a Class E Felony). Additionally, Robert Iengo is charged individually with Criminal Solicitation in the Fourth Degree (P.L. § 100.05(1), a Class A Misdemeanor), for his role in recruiting McAteer to commit various felonies.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Jason P. Garelick and Rajiv Shah of the Environmental Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton, Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.
The investigation was conducted by Lieutenant John Fitzpatrick, DEC, Division of Law Enforcement, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation, under the supervision of Major Scott Florence. He was assisted by Investigator Sara Komonchak and Environmental Conservation Officers Matthew Nichols, Neil Stevens, Dustin Dainack, Gregory Maneeley, Jared Woodin along with Investigator Edward Ortiz of the New York State Office of the Attorney General, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus, and Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.
The Attorney General recognizes the diligent work of the Department of Environmental Protection and DEC staff with whose cooperation the case developed, particularly DEP HAZMAT Specialists Eric Pohl and Ikenna Anyanwu under the supervision of Harry Mayer, and DEC Chemist Malissa Kramer.
The charges are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.