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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
March 14, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
- Greta Gooden Brown, Insurance Fraud Prosecutor

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 

Former Millville Businessman to Pay $30,000 in Fines and Clean-up Costs for Abandoning Dry Cleaning Solvents in Closed Laundry

Urban Environmental Initiative Targets Quality of Life Crime

TRENTON — Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice, announced that the former owner of a Millville dry cleaning business has pleaded guilty to abandoning hazardous chemicals and solvents inside the defunct store-front property and has been ordered to pay nearly $30,000 in fines and clean-up costs.

Director McKoy said that W. Scott Sheppard, 36, Debbie Lane, Millville, the former owner of the defunct Millville Laundry, pleaded guilty before Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Richard Geiger to the unlawful storage of hazardous waste. As a result of the guilty plea, Sheppard was ordered to pay a $25,000 criminal penalty and to reimburse the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Spill Fund more than $9,000 in clean-up costs. The sentence was imposed on March 11.

McKoy noted that Sheppard and his company, the former Millville Laundry & Dry Cleaning, located at 26-28 West McNeal St., Millville, Cumberland County, was charged via a State Grand Jury indictment with the unlawful storage of hazardous waste. The indictment charged that Sheppard abandoned hazardous dry cleaning solvents inside the property when the business closed in September, 2000. After responding to a Feb. 23, 2004 fire at the abandoned building, local fire officials uncovered the abandoned drums of dry cleaning chemicals and solvents, including large quantities of tetrachloroethene.

The investigation and prosecution by the Division of Criminal Justice - Environmental Crimes Bureau, was part of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Urban Environmental Initiative which is geared to the response, investigation, and prosecution of environmental crimes in urban, suburban and rural communities and industrial areas. The Initiative targets criminal activity such as the illegal dumping of construction debris and other solid waste, illegal discharges of pollutants into waterways and the air, and other activities which negatively impact the quality of life for residents in local neighborhoods and communities.

In 2004, the Division of Criminal Justice - Environmental Crimes Bureau obtained 17 criminal indictments, guilty pleas and/or Accusations charging 24 individuals or corporations with illegal acts ranging from the intentional discharge of hazardous and potentially toxic wastewater into public waterways, to the illegal dumping of thousands of tires in environmentally sensitive areas, to discharging contaminated wastes near residential communities, to abandoning trailers full of solid waste and construction debris in urban neighborhoods. The Environmental Crimes Bureau has also collected more than $600,000 in fines and restitution.

The investigation and indictment was coordinated by Deputy Attorney General Bruce Kmosko and Supervising State Investigator Jeffrey Gross assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Environmental Crimes Bureau.

The key to the successful enforcement initiative against illegal dumpers must include the “eyes and ears” of neighborhood residents and community watch groups reporting suspicious activities. The DEP maintains a 24-Hour Environmental Hot Line -- 609- 292-7172 -- to receive reports of environmental crimes. Information regarding environmental enforcement activities can be obtained by logging on to the Division of Criminal Justice Web page at www.njdcj.org or the Department of Environmental Protection web page at www.nj.gov/dep.


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