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DA: ‘Ringleader’ pleads guilty in illegal East End dumping scheme

A Smithtown man described as a ringleader in an illegal dumping scheme that targeted East End homeowners has accepted a plea deal, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office announced at a press conference Thursday.

Anthony Grazio, 54, was among 30 individuals and nine corporations charged in a 130-count indictment in an alleged conspiracy to illegally dispose of solid waste at 24 locations on Long Island, according to District Attorney Timothy Sini.

Mr. Grazio pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of second-degree criminal mischief and two counts of third-degree endangering public health, safety or environment, all felonies. He also pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors: fifth-degree conspiracy and operating a solid waste management facility without a permit.

Prosecutors previously said the victims of the scheme — including property owners in Calverton, Baiting Hollow, Flanders and Greenport — had responded to advertisements for “free screened clean fill” on places like Craigslist. But ultimately the victims were left with solid waste that often contained toxic and acutely hazardous materials like arsenic, lead and mercury, prosecutors alleged.

“As I’ve stated before, we are facing an epidemic of environmental crimes in Suffolk County,” Mr. Sini said. “This case was a great first step forward in ending those crimes. The plea today, and Grazio’s pending prison sentence, will send a strong message to polluters that crime does not pay.”

Mr. Grazio is scheduled to be sentenced by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei on July 15. He faces a sentence of two to four years in prison and a restitution judgement order of $500,000.

Prosecutors said that between January and July 2018, Mr. Grazio would act as a dirt broker by arranging for locations where trucking companies could illegally dispose of solid waste. He also solicited homeowners over the phone and in person for locations to use for dumping.

On May 14, 2018, Mr. Grazio sent a text message to Thomas St. Clair, 51, of Saint James, instructing him to dump material at a residential location on Flanders Road in Riverside. On May 29, Cesar Ivan Bermeo, 33, of Queens coordinated for three Kris Trucking Corp trucks to each dump a load of material containing solid waste at the Flanders Road site.

The indictment says $1,500 worth of damage was done to the property.

A residential site on Landing Lane in Greenport also received a delivery of material from Durante Brothers that was delivered by Mr. Melgar. That delivery included solid waste and caused $1,500 worth of damage, according to the indictment.