A man convicted of allowing thousands of tons of asbestos to be dumped on his property and lying about it is settling a Justice Department lawsuit over clean-up costs for $135,000.
Cross Nicastro of New York would have to pay the amount as part of a proposed consent decree announced April 2 in the Federal Register. Paying the amount over three years would settle a July 2017 EPA complaint concerning the costs it incurred cleaning up his asbestos-contaminated property, per the liability statutes under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Nicastro was convicted in 2012 of conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act, a Superfund statute and to defraud the federal government by “illegally dumping thousands of tons of asbestos-contaminated construction debris on a 28-acre piece of property” he owned in upstate New York, near the Mohawk River.
Nicastro coordinated with a New Jersey solid waste management facility to fill the whole property with asbestos-contaminated debris over a five-year period, according to an EPA release detailing the results of the three-week federal trial.
The land is now designated as the Frankfort Asbestos Superfund site, a designation given to properties that require long-term environmental clean-up. Government documents did not disclose the reason Nicastro permitted the hazardous material to be dumped on the property.
While the asbestos dumping scheme was uncovered within months, more than 400 truckloads of debris had already been deposited on the site, much of it near waterways. Nicastro and his confederates tried to conceal “the illegal dumping by fabricating a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ... permit and forged the name of a DEC official on the fraudulent permit,” according to the release.
Following the trial, Nicastro was sentenced to nearly three years in prison, ordered to pay a $25,000 criminal fine and more than $492,000 in conjunction with others in the scheme to cover the response costs. He was later ordered to pay the EPA an additional $300,000 in personal restitution.
Inability to Pay
Fast-forward four years and the Justice Department has concluded that, based on Nicastro’s finances, he “has limited financial ability to pay” the amounts owed. According to court records, he has paid $25,000 toward the clean-up costs and roughly $10,500 to cover his fine.
For this reason, the proposed consent decree would reduce his total costs to $135,000, which includes the $35,500 Nicastro has already paid.
Under the proposed settlement, he would pay down the amount in three installment payments, of which $35,000 will go toward CERCLA-based clean-up costs, and the remainder would cover civil penalty costs.