TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that a state grand jury has voted to file criminal charges against a Long Island man in connection with a deadly May 2022 fire at a Waste Management facility in Elizabeth, which resulted in the death of a facility employee.
Mark Cadieux, 55, of Lynbrook, N.Y., the owner of a trucking and warehouse business, has been arrested and charged with first-degree aggravated manslaughter; second-degree manslaughter; second-degree violation or failure to perform a duty imposed by a law intended to protect public health and safety; second- and third-degree causing or risking widespread injury or damage; and numerous environmental hazardous waste charges. Following a detention hearing, the court ordered that Cadieux be released with conditions, and at his arraignment on July 3 the defendant pleaded not guilty.
“This case provides a stark illustration of how the irresponsible and improper disposal of hazardous waste can have a clear, devastating and immediate impact on public health and safety,” said Attorney General Platkin. “This careless action resulted in a large quantity of highly flammable materials going into the waste stream, effectively sending the workers at this facility in Elizabeth a firebomb that was waiting to go off. And when it did, it had lethal consequences.”
“Every worker at that Waste Management facility and every firefighter who had to respond to try to put out this multi-alarm fire had their lives put at risk by reckless, criminal behavior,” said Derek Nececkas, Interim Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our Environmental Crimes Unit will hold polluters accountable, particularly when their disregard for dumping laws leads to an outcome as egregious as this — a fatal, massive blaze in one of New Jersey’s most populous urban areas.”
The investigation of the fatal fire involved interviews with witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of surveillance footage, and autopsy results from the medical examiner. After hearing the evidence from the investigation, the state grand jury concluded its deliberations and voted “true bill,” determining that criminal charges against Cadieux were warranted.
According to the indictment, on or about May 10, 2022, Cadieux unlawfully disposed of over 9,000 pounds of extremely flammable dry shampoo aerosol cans into a dumpster that he rented in Linden, N.J. The dumpster was subsequently transported to the Waste Management facility on Julia Street in Elizabeth. Within minutes of the aerosol cans being dumped out of the dumpster at the facility, a multiple-alarm fire broke out and resulted in the death of facility worker Czeslaw Solarz, 69, of Union Township.
The indictment alleges that, because the dry shampoo aerosol cans exhibited a characteristic of ignitability, in other words were flammable gases, Cadieux disposed of hazardous waste when he discarded the aerosol cans into the dumpster. The indictment further alleges that Cadieux did not have authorization from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to dispose of the aerosol cans in this manner.
Deputy Attorneys General Frederick McDonald, Laura Magnone, and Danielle Scarduzio are prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Environmental Crimes Unit under the supervision of Deputy Chief Jacqueline Smith and Deputy Directors Erik Daab and Claudia Joy Demitro. The fatal fire was investigated by DCJ’s Environmental Crimes Unit, led by Sgt. Steven Ogulin and assisted by Detectives Brad Novik and Darrell Washington; and the Union County Arson Task Force; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the New Jersey State Fire Marshall; the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; the Elizabeth Police Department; the Linden Police Department; and the Elizabeth Fire Department.
First-degree aggravated manslaughter carries a sentence of 10 to 30 years in state prison. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Eric Breslin, Melissa Geller, and Matthew Caminiti, Duane Morris LLP