Dirt Broker Pleads Guilty in Operation Pay Dirt Largest Illegal Dumping Case in NY State History
DA SINI: DIRT BROKER PLEADS GUILTY IN “OPERATION PAY DIRT,” LARGEST ILLEGAL DUMPING CASE IN NY STATE HISTORY
Defendant Faces Two to Four Years in State Prison for Role in Illegal Dumping Conspiracy
(HAUPPAUGE, N.Y.) – Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the guilty plea 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.
“As I’ve stated before, we are facing an epidemic of environmental crimes in Suffolk County,” District Attorney Sini said. “This case was a great first step forward in ending those crimes. This plea today, and Grazio’s pending prison sentence, will send a strong message to polluters that crime does not pay.”
Anthony Grazio, a/k/a Rock, 54, of Smithtown, pleaded guilty today 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.
In February 2018, the District Attorney’s Office, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 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.
“This is a situation where people deliberately skirted the law to line their pockets with money and acted out of pure greed at the expense of the public health of residents of Suffolk County,” District Attorney Sini said.
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.
Grazio is scheduled to be sentenced by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei on July 15. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Grazio faces a sentence of two to four years in prison and a restitution judgment order in the amount of $500,000.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Luigi Belcastro, Laura Sarowitz and Adriana Noyola of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau.