Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced a lawsuit against 29 waste haulers and brokers for illegally dumping waste at a site in Saugerties, Ulster County, owned by a man who also faces up to 25 years in state prison in the beating death of a 66-year-old excavation company owner.
The suit argues that the companies repeatedly violated state law by transporting more than 3,000 truckloads of construction and demolition (C&D) waste originating from the New York City metropolitan area to the site in Saugerties, which was only authorized to accept waste from Ulster and Dutchess Counties. With this lawsuit, Attorney General James is seeking all the revenues and profits gained, and potentially millions of dollars in penalties.
“Rather than bring their solid waste to local facilities that were authorized to accept it, Joseph Karolys and dozens of hauling accomplices chose instead to treat the waste illegally, dump it in violation of our stringent environmental laws, and then not address the consequences. DEC is working closely with the Attorney General to hold these polluters responsible and uphold our solid waste requirements that protect public health and the environment,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement to the press.
“We have environmental and solid waste laws in New York for a reason: to protect our land, our water, and our people,” said Attorney General James. “By ignoring these laws and repeatedly dumping construction waste where they were not permitted, these 29 companies threatened our natural resources and risked health and safety of New Yorkers in Ulster County. My office remains committed to aggressively enforcing our environmental protection laws and holding those who violate them fully accountable.”
Karolys has been frequently in the news. In 2019 the Saugerties Times reported that a raid of Karolys’ operations by DEC “turned up 39 violations of clean water and solid waste disposal laws.” Later tests confirmed they contained “the presence of heavy metals like mercury, lead and zinc; coal ash, coal and slag; and nine chemicals deemed to be ‘probable carcinogens,’ including the banned-for-decades pesticide DDT.”
In June 2020, Commissioner Seggos and Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against Karolys, the owner and operator of the Saugerties dump site, for repeatedly accepting the C&D waste from the 29 haulers and brokers named in today’s lawsuit, in violation of New York’s solid waste and water pollution laws. Karolys had told the Mid Hudson News that he was bringing only clean screened fill to the site. A few months later, the town of Woodstock charged Karolys with 200 counts of illegal dumping in a different case.
In tandem with the 2020 lawsuit, DEC and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) widened their investigation into the various companies that brought waste to the Karolys site in Saugerties. They say that over a period of three years, 29 waste transporters and waste brokers unlawfully caused over 3,000 loads – approximately 100,000 cubic yards – of C&D waste to be transported and dumped at the site.
C&D waste from highly urbanized areas like New York City is more likely to be contaminated with petroleum or hazardous substances than waste material from less urbanized areas. Despite the fact that there are sites and facilities in or near New York City where these companies could have lawfully delivered this waste, the haulers named in this most recent lawsuit instead chose to deliver to the Karolys site, which is located about two to three hours north.
The suit alleges that their willingness to travel from the New York City metropolitan area to Saugerties just to dump these loads suggests they knew that Karolys was unlawfully accepting these materials. Karolys also charged these companies a fee that was much lower than what any legitimate facility in the New York City area would charge, and the suit further alleges that as a result, the haulers knew that Karolys was running an illegal business.
Karolys is facing charges for other, more serious, crimes as well. According to local police, he called his 17-year-old son on October 28, 2022 to a bar to pick-up he and two other men. David “Mickey” Myer, one of them, was celebrating his 66th birthday. Myer’s badly beaten body was found the next morning on the side of Route 32, a mile from his home in Saugerties. According to his obituary, Myer was a heavy equipment operator and the owner of Foundation and Site Specialist, an excavating company.
Both Karolyses are in custody, charged with first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence. They have pleaded not guilty. If convicted, the senior Karolys faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in state prison.
The 29 companies named in the suit, along with their owners and/or operators, are:
- AGP Industries LLC
- American Recycling Management LLC
- Atlas Roll-Off Corp.
- B&A Trucking Corp.
- DNA Transport, LLC
- Dynamic Environmental Contractors, Inc.
- E&E Commercial Corp.
- ECC Trucking Corp.
- Finest Materials LLC
- H&P Industries Inc.
- IEV Industries Corp.
- J & D Carrying & Construction Corp.
- J.B. Trucking of NY Inc.
- James DePietro Enterprises LLC
- JK Concrete Ready Mix Inc.
- JR’s Premium Trucking, Inc.
- K.D.E. Trucking Corp.
- La Americana Car Service, LLC d/b/a La Americana Trucking
- Logan Trucking, Inc.
- Modern Leasing, Inc.
- Northside Industries LLC
- P.J. Logistics, Inc.
- Richmond Construction Inc.
- River Transportation Services Inc.
- T. & R. Construction Corp.
- Tully Environmental Inc.
- Vigorous Industries Inc.
- Way Trucking Corp.
- Zevel Transfer LLC
Photo: Joseph Karolys at a Saugties landfill (courtesy Mid-Hudson News).