TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today that a New York man was indicted by a state grand jury for allegedly illegally collecting solid sewage waste and discharging it into a storm drain that emptied into West Milford Lake in West Milford, NJ in March 2021.
Anthony Serpe, 55, of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., was indicted Friday on charges of third-degree violation of New Jersey’s Water Pollution Control Act and fourth-degree illegal collection of solid waste.
The indictment was obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Specialized Crimes Bureau as the result of an investigation by the Bureau’s Environmental Crimes Unit.
“Illegally discharging waste into waterways harms our environment and poses a serious threat to public health in New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “We will vigorously enforce the laws in place to protect our natural resources and hold polluters responsible for the environmental damage that they cause.”
“Our Environmental Crimes Unit is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting violations of the State’s water pollution, air pollution, hazardous waste and solid waste laws, no matter how large or small” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our message is simple and clear. If you are polluting the environment, you will face serious consequences.”
According to the charges, on March 23, 2021, Serpe, who did not have approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to collect solid waste, illegally collected between 250 and 1000 gallons of wastewater and solid waste from a residential septic system – for profit or otherwise. Serpe then discharged a portion of it into a storm drain at William and Center Streets in West Milford that discharges to a tributary to West Milford Lake.
Deputy Attorney General Matthew Lafargue is the lead prosecutor and Sgt. Steven Ogulin of is the case detective for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, Environmental Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline D. Smith and Bureau Chief Erik Daab. Acting Attorney General Platkin commended the West Milford Police Department for its work on the joint investigation.
Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Defense Attorney: N/A