A Newark man was sentenced to probation and 300 hours of community service Monday for illegally dumping construction material, medical waste, lead paint and other items from his rubbish removal business beneath a trio of highways.
Superior Court Judge Mayra V. Tarantino declined the state Attorney General’s Office request that Abdullah S. Bryant, 41, spend 364 days in the county jail for his guilty plea to criminal mischief and opted for three years of probation and the community service.
Bryant -- who did business under various names, including International Rubbish Removal – admitted last November that he illegally collected, transported and dumped more than 100 cubic yards of solid waste at a site owned by the state DOT beneath Routes 78 and 22 between Frelinghuysen Avenue and the Northeast Corridor Rail Line.
He also illegally dumped an unspecified quantity of solid waste on DOT- and Amtrak-owned property located under the Route 21 overpass near Poinier Street, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
The debris field under I-78/U.S. 22 was roughly 1,000 feet long by 500 feet wide, Grewal said.
It’s the same elevated stretch highway that suffered severe structural damage in August 1989 due to an illegal solid waste dump that caught fire, the attorney general noted.
The debris field under Route 21 was about 1,200 feet long and 50 to 150 feet in width, he said.
The waste included, among other things, household items, discarded paper, construction materials, flammables, asbestos, medical waste, lead paint, and other hazardous materials.
Bryant will be required to pay restitution for the cleanup costs, which will be determined at a separate court hearing, said Tarantino, sitting in Newark.
“It is especially important that we hold polluters accountable when they dump waste and hazardous materials in disadvantaged areas, believing that no one will care,” Grewal said. “We absolutely do care, and we are stepping up our environmental enforcement efforts statewide to crack down on such crimes.”
“These are not victimless crimes; they are crimes that victimize entire communities.”
Detective Sgt. Steven Ogulin was the lead detective for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, Environmental Crimes Unit, assisted by the DOT Office of the Inspector General and New Jersey Transit and Amtrak police.
Additional assistance was provided by the state departments of environmental protection, labor and health.
Deputy Attorney General Gezim Bajrami prosecuted Bryant for the state Division of Criminal Justice.
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