TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that a man has been indicted on charges that he illegally dumped huge quantities of solid waste from his rubbish removal business at unauthorized sites underneath highways in Newark, N.J.
Abdullah S. Bryant, 40, of Newark, N.J., who did business under various names, including International Rubbish Removal, is alleged to have illegally collected, transported and dumped more than 100 cubic yards of solid waste at a site owned by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) underneath elevated sections of I-78 and U.S. Route 22 between Frelinghuysen Avenue and the Northeast Corridor Rail Line. He also is alleged to have illegally dumped an unspecified quantity of solid waste on DOT- and Amtrak-owned property located under the Route 21 overpass near Poinier Street. The illegal dumping is alleged to have occurred between January 2016 and April 2017.
The Division of Criminal Justice obtained a six-count state grand jury indictment on Tuesday, Feb. 26, charging Bryant with the following offenses:
Bryant was indicted in an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, Environmental Crimes Unit, assisted by the DOT Office of the Inspector General, New Jersey Transit Police Department, and Amtrak Police Department. Additional assistance was provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Labor, and Department of Health.
“Far too frequently polluters will dump waste and hazardous materials in disadvantaged areas, where they believe they can violate the law with impunity,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Today we send a clear message to illegal dumpers: if you pollute our communities, not only will we pursue you with civil actions, we will prosecute you criminally. Everyone, no matter their race, ethnicity, color, national origin, or income deserves to live and work in a healthy and clean environment, free from the harmful and degrading effects of polluted air, contaminated water, and illegal dumping.”
“We will aggressively investigate and prosecute environmental crimes to protect all of the residents of New Jersey and advance the cause of environmental justice,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “State law provides for substantial prison sentences for individuals convicted of disposing of solid waste at sites not authorized by the DEP. Our Environmental Crimes Unit will continue to collaborate with other agencies to prosecute unscrupulous operators who undermine and endanger our communities by engaging in illegal dumping.”
In March 2017, the DOT Office of the Inspector General alerted the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) about the illegal dump site under I-78 and U.S. 22. Later that month, the NJ Transit Police alerted DCJ about the second illegal dump site under Route 21. DCJ investigators inspected the sites and found extensive quantities of solid waste at each location. The debris field under I-78/U.S. 22 was roughly 1,000 feet long by 500 feet wide. The debris field under Route 21 was about 1,200 feet long and 50 to 150 feet in width. The solid waste included, among other things, household items, discarded paper, construction materials, flammables, asbestos, medical waste, lead paint, and other hazardous materials.
Investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice examined the solid waste to identify suspected points of origin. They conducted numerous interviews at the source locations, identifying Bryant as the individual who was paid to remove waste from those locations. Bryant was not authorized by the DEP to collect solid waste or dispose of it at the sites in question, as required by state law.
The DOT and its contractors conducted a cleanup at the illegal dump site under I-78 and U.S. 22, and Amtrak hired contractors to conduct a cleanup at the illegal dump site under Route 21. The combined cleanup costs at the two sites exceeded $1.7 million. The I-78 site is the same elevated stretch of I-78 that suffered severe structural damage in August 1989 due to an illegal solid waste dump that caught fire.
Deputy Attorney General Gezim Bajrami presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, Environmental Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith and Bureau Chief Andrew Johns. Detective Sgt. Steven Ogulin was the lead detective for the Division of Criminal Justice. Attorney General Grewal thanked the DOT Office of the Inspector General, New Jersey Transit Police Department, Amtrak Police Department, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Labor, and Department of Health.
Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Essex County, where Bryant will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
Defense Attorney: Undetermined.