Aug 30

Lawyer violated stream protection law, police say

The Daily Freeman – August 30, 2008

Mount Tremper, CT – A Mount Tremper man was arrested after operating a backhoe in a protected stream, despite repeated warnings from state Environmental Conservation Police to cease his activities, police said Friday.

Esopus Creek in Mount Tremper

On Aug. 6, Environmental Conservation Police received a complaint from the Shandaken Town Zoning Office about a backhoe in the Esopus Creek, which is protected by the state, off Plank Road. Police charged Algernon Reese, an attorney, with the misdemeanor of disturbing a protected stream, punishable by up to a year in jail or a $10,000 fine, and released him with an appearance ticket for Shandaken Town Court.

Police received another complaint on Wednesday, and found Reese again working at the stream with construction equipment and a small team of contractors. Police said Reese obstructed Environmental Conservation Officer Vernon Fonda‘s investigation, and was arrested.

Reese was charged with the misdemeanors of obstructing governmental administration, disturbing a protected stream, and violating a general prohibition against pollution. “The charges are pending, and he’s right back there 20 days later,” said Lt. Deming Lindsley. “The blatant disregard for what the law indicates makes us very concerned.”

When Fonda attempted to interview the contractors, Reese prevented him, saying he represented them as counsel and forbade them from speaking to him, Lindsley said. Lindsley said that it appeared that Reese was trying to control the stream and prevent flooding from reaching his property. His property lies in the Esopus floodplain.

“He’s put in concrete barries, built mounds, dug trenches,” Lindsley said. “He’s fighting against Mother Nature.” Lindsley said Reese had been “observed comitting violations” for nearly 10 years, but had used his skills as an attorney to fend off accusations. Reese was arrraigned in Shandaken Town Court and released on $5,000 bail.

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