Broad Channel marina owner guilty of dumping sewage, faces jail

October 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

A Queens Marina owner is facing four years in jail for dumping raw sewage into Jamaica Bay.

John Schmitt, 56, who owned Schmitt’s Marina in Broad Channel, was convicted of discharging untreated waste from sinks and toilets into the fragile ecosystem, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The conviction comes at the end a 20-year-old saga between Schmitt and various government agencies, which have accused him of unlawful use of city-owned land and illegal dumping.

“It’s incredible that it took so long to shut him down,” said Don Riepe, a local environmental activist and head of the American Littoral Society. “A lot of the agencies dropped the ball on this one. This goes way back.”

The feds sued Schmitt’s Marina in 1989, claiming he unlawfully expanded his family boatyard to create space for more than 200 boats. Schmitt’s Marina was ordered in 1998 to remove tons of debris from the marshland.

Schmitt found himself in trouble again in February 2007 when the city said he damaged about 9 acres of marshland by polluting the area with fuel, concrete and other toxins. At the time, city sheriffs ordered him off the property at W. 19th Road.

This week’s conviction was the result of a state probe launched two years ago.

“He’s been under formal surveillance since July 2006,” said a state official. “He illegally expanded his marina 600,000 square feet.”

Schmitt’s attorney said he’s going to appeal the latest conviction.

“The city and state have conducted a vendetta against this guy for decades,” said Michael Dowd. “This is a case over a toilet and a sink. There are people in Broad Channel today who still don’t have sewer lines.”

Schmitt has proved to be a divisive character in the tight-knit community.

“Sometimes justice takes a long time,” said a person who owns a nearby home. “He was burying car seats, foam, springs and other debris. People barricaded the street so his trucks couldn’t dump anymore. It still needs to be remediated.”

Schmitt faces up to four years in jail and $200,000 in fines. He will be sentenced Oct. 28.

“John Schmitt’s actions have been truly disgusting,” Cuomo said. “If you blatantly disregard the environment in New York State, you’ll end up cleaning up your mess in court.”

BY BRENDAN BROSH
DAILY NEWS

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Entry filed under: Go Coastal, Natural Waterfront, Queens. Tags: , , , , , .

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