A Nassau man charged with more than 20 felonies for illegally dumping thousands of gallons of automobile fluid into the ground at his Glen Cove salvage yard pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor offense and will serve no time behind bars.
John Doxey, 46, of Muttontown, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of endangering public health, safety, or the environment in the fifth degree, a class B misdemeanor. Prosecutors asked that he be given a conditional discharge – a sentence of no jail time or probation supervision. Nassau County District Court Judge Francis Ricigliano said Doxey’s sentence requires him to abide by an order from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation that forces him to clean up his property.
Prosecutors said Doxey, who owned a salvage yard in Glen Cove, had been dismantling large commercial vehicles, including garbage trucks, tractor-trailers and dump trucks. Under state law, the vehicles need to be drained of gasoline, motor oil, anti-freeze and hydraulic fluid before they are disassembled. Prosecutors say Doxey and his employees had been ripping the vehicles apart with blow torches, drills and power saws and never drained any of the fluids, causing thousands of gallons of chemicals to seep into the ground.
Doxey was arrested in May 2012 after investigators received a tip from someone who rented office space nearby, the district attorney’s office said. He paid a $25,000 civil penalty last month to the Department of Environmental Conservation as part of the department’s order, according to prosecutors and court papers. Authorities said that money has been used for the cleanup.
In court Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Andrew Weiss said the case against Doxey had been brought by the Department of Environmental Conservation. He said prosecutors were not seeking any additional fines because Doxey had already paid a civil penalty to the state agency. A DEC spokesman offered no immediate comment when contacted Wednesday about the case.
Weiss said prosecutors also consulted City of Glen Cove officials before offering Doxey the plea deal. He said Glen Cove officials were “satisfied” with the offer and noted that Doxey has already begun cleaning the property. Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello had no comment.
In a statement, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said her office pursued the case “to make sure this defendant would be held accountable for his crimes.” Rice said she wanted to make sure Doxey would “bear the full cost of the clean-up, at no cost to taxpayers.”
“It’s our position that he was overcharged with numerous felonies,” Doxey’s lawyer, Nancy Bartling said. “At the end of the day, he pleaded guilty to a B misdemeanor…with no significant punishment.” She said Doxey complied with the state’s order and has already cleaned up the land.