Attorney General Cuomo Announces Arrests Of Two Buffalo Area Contractors For Dumping Hazardous Asbestos Waste

BUFFALO, N.Y. (May 5, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrests of the owner of Peerless Environmental Control, Inc., a local asbestos abatement contractor, as well as a demolition contractor, for illegally dumping more than five tons of asbestos-contaminated debris inside an abandoned warehouse in the City of Buffalo.

Robert L. Bishop, 45, of Tonawanda Creek Road, East Amherst, owner of Peerless Environmental Control, Inc, and Salvatore P. Capizzi, 47, of Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, a self-employed demolition contractor, are charged with Endangering Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Third Degree (a class E felony) and Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (a class D felony). They each face a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

“People who try to cut corners by illegally dumping harmful materials like asbestos endanger the public and hurt the environment,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office has no tolerance for polluters who fail to comply with the state’s stringent hazardous waste disposal laws.”

According to court papers, Bishop, while operating as an asbestos abatement contractor for various area construction projects, collected thousands of pounds of asbestos-contaminated waste and stored it in containers at a warehouse on West Avenue in the City of Buffalo. When Bishop was notified that the New York State Department of Labor’s Asbestos regulators wanted to inspect his facility, he paid some of his workers to haul the waste to a different building on Leslie Street in Buffalo purportedly owned by Capizzi. However, Capizzi never owned the property, which had been abandoned for many years.

The asbestos waste remained hidden for more than a year at the Leslie Street site until it was discovered by the State Department of Labor’s asbestos regulators. The site has since been cleaned by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which removed more than five tons of asbestos-contaminated material at a cost of approximately $137,400. An ensuing investigation by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation and the Attorney General’s office resulted in the charges filed against Bishop and Capizzi.

“In this case, the alleged reckless and dangerous acts of two individuals put public health and the environment at risk,” said State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis. “DEC’s investigators diligently pursued this case and we thank Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for working to ensure that environmental crimes are prosecuted vigorously. Our joint effort sends a clear message that those who violate state environmental will be held accountable for their actions.”

The Attorney General thanked the Department of Environmental Conservation for their cooperation in this investigation.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Paul McCarthy under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Deputy Chief Richard Ernst. The investigation was conducted by DEC Lt. Jeffrey Jondel, Investigator Robert E. O’Connor of the DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation, United States Environmental Protection Agency Special Agent Darin J. Mugleston, and Senior Investigator Paul R. Scherf of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator James L. Domres.