2008-10-03 / Front Page

Jail Time On Tap For Dirty Dumper

By Nicholas Briano

ABroad Channel marina owner faces up to four years in prison for dumping untreated raw sewage into Jamaica Bay, state officials say.

John Schmitt, former owner and operator of Schmitt's Marina in Broad Channel, faces up to four years in prison for illegally dumping raw sewage into Jamaica Bay. John Schmitt, former owner and operator of Schmitt's Marina in Broad Channel, faces up to four years in prison for illegally dumping raw sewage into Jamaica Bay. John Schmitt, 56, whose family has owned Schmitt's Marina at West 19 Road in Broad Channel for more than 30 years, has been convicted of discharging untreated sewage from sinks and toilets into the ecosystem of Jamaica Bay, according to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who announced the conviction late last week.

Schmitt has been in a 20-year battle with government agencies stemming from claims that he unlawfully used marshlands adjacent to Broad Channel for his own commercial use. In 1989, the federal government sued Schmitt's Marina owners, John and Adam Schmitt, charging that they had unlawfully expanded their singular dock into a nine dock marina with space for 250 boats.

The trouble returned for Schmitt's Marina in 1998, when they were ordered by a federal judge to remove tons of debris from Big Egg Marsh, into which Schmitt had extended the dock, eliminating a prime location for much of Jamaica Bay's migratory birds and other bay inhabitants.

Schmitt's Marina closed down in February 2007 when the government ordered the business off the land for littering the area and adjacent marshlands with fuel, concrete and other materials. Schmitt's Marina closed down in February 2007 when the government ordered the business off the land for littering the area and adjacent marshlands with fuel, concrete and other materials. In February 2007 he was officially ordered off the land when he was accused by the city of littering the area with materials detrimental to the ecosystem of the bay, such as fuel, concrete and other debris.

However, Schmitt may be sent to jail on what seems to be a lesser charge than that of ruining a delicate marshland. Residing in the same building as the marina, Schmitt was convicted of running pipes from a sink and the toilets directly into Jamaica Bay. According to Cuomo, he was in violation of New York's Environmental Conservation Law.

Schmitt also owned and operated a telephone answering service at a second building nearby, in which a toilet was connected to a pipe that discharged onto the ground and into the groundwater. According to Cuomo, the pipe had been concealed beneath pieces of old wood, and raw sewage had been sitting on the ground beneath it.

"John Schmitt's actions have been truly disgusting. Dumping raw sewage into a public waterway is not just bad for the environment; it is a clear abuse of the people who use the bay for swimming, fishing and boating," said Attorney General Cuomo. "This conviction should send a clear message: If you blatantly disregard the environment in New York State, you'll end up cleaning up your mess in court."

Other charges for which Schmitt was convicted included digging a trench on the tidal wetlands and attempting to drain it without a permit. In addition, when a warrant was issued to search the premises, an unlicensed firearm was discovered.

Schmitt was convicted of two class E felonies, a misdemeanor, and two environmental violations. He was also convicted of a misdemeanor for the Criminal Possession of a Weapon.

Schmitt will face up to four years in jail and $200,000 in fines when sentenced on October 28.

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