To conservationists in Broad Channel, the actions of long-time neighbor John Schmitt, who was convicted last month of dumping raw sewage into Jamaica Bay, are abhorrent.
The 56-year-old owner of Schmitt’s Marina discharged untreated waste into the waters of the bay and dug a trench on federally protected tidal wetlands, attempting to drain them without a permit, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.
Head of the American Littoral Society and the Jamaica Bay Guardian Don Riepe said Schmitt’s blatant disregard for environmental regulations carried on for some 20 years.
Schmitt also took over city property and abandoned derelict boats there, according to Riepe, who has worked for decades to protect and restore Jamaica Bay.
“All of these things impact the water quality, aesthetics and habitat of the bay,” Riepe said. Derelict vessels pose great harm: they often leak oil and other chemicals into the national preserve, impeding wetland growth.
Cuomo called Schmitt’s actions “a clear abuse of the people who use the bay for swimming, fishing and boating.” This conviction, he said, will send a clear message: “If you blatantly disregard the environment … you’ll end up cleaning up your mess in court.”
The illegal activities were uncovered after a two-year investigation by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Schmitt was convicted of two class E felonies, a misdemeanor and a two violations for his environmental crimes. He faces up to four years in jail and up to $200,000 in fines. Sentencing will take place on Oct. 28.
Schmitt’s attorney, Michael Dowd, said he is going to appeal the conviction.
— Lee Landor