If Cross Nicastro had known truckloads of hazardous debris were being hauled from the New York City area and dumped on his farmland in Herkimer County since 2006, he never would have agreed to the disposal plan.
“God strike me dead, I did not know I was doing anything wrong,” 61-year-old Nicastro, of Frankfort, told U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd shortly before he was sentenced Tuesday to 2 3/4 years in prison for conspiring to violate environmental regulations.
Nicastro said he thought everyone had all the proper permits when they began transporting the debris to his property.
But when it came to dumping potentially toxic debris along the region’s Mohawk River, the judge said it was Nicastro’s fault for not questioning whether the materials posed any danger.
“You should not have just been taking someone’s word when you talk about polluting the area,” Hurd said.
Nicastro was found guilty after trial last October, along with Dominick Mazza and Mazza & Sons.
Nicastro will also have to pay nearly $492,500 in restitution for clean-up costs, but he could be ordered to pay more since the total cleanup is estimated at more than $1.4 million.
Nicastro will begin serving his prison sentence on Tuesday, July 16, after he has paid an upfront amount of $50,000.
Nicastro’s daughter, Christine Christensen, gave an emotional plea in court to spare her father any jail time so he could help care for her and her brother, both of whom suffer from multiple sclerosis.
But the prosecutor, Todd Gleason of the U.S. Justice Department, said the court needs to send a clear message: That sending hazardous materials from New Jersey to be dumped alongside an upstate riverbed cannot be tolerated.