A Florida man was arraigned last week in East Hampton Town Justice Court, charged with allowing untreated sewage to flow from his 70-foot-long luxury yacht into Lake Montauk. Charles Vaccaro, 60, of Sunny Isles Beach, is facing four misdemeanor charges, two of which carry a minimum fine of $3750 each, and a possible year in jail if convicted.
Three of the charges were made by officers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, working in conjunction with the Coast Guard. They included discharging waste without a permit, polluting waters in a restricted marine district, and discharging untreated sewage from a marine toilet. The misdemeanor charge from the town alleges that Vaccaro discharged waste water into Lake Montauk. The yacht, the C-Weed, was docked at Gurney’s Montauk Yacht Club when it was boarded by Coast Guard officers on July 26.
According to a statement by Officer Sean Doyle of the U.S. Coast Guard on file at the Justice Court, he, along with another officer, boarded the C-Weed the afternoon of July 26, after receiving a report of sewage being discharged into the lake. Master Chief Eric Best said Monday that the East Hampton Harbor Patrol made the initial call to the Coast Guard, who were assisted by that department.
In his written report, Officer Doyle reported that there was a noticeable smell of sewage when the C-Weed was boarded. Vaccaro was not on the yacht at the time. According to the statement, none of the four crew members onboard were aware that the valve from the overflow septic tank was in an open position.
“Crew members appeared to be confused as to where and why the smell of sewage was coming from their vessel,” the officer wrote. When asked when the last time was that the tank had been pumped, a mate replied “maybe three weeks ago in Port Washington.”
The officers found that the overboard discharge tank’s valve was in the open position, and the tank was full, according to the Coast Guard. “On several occasions, while onboard, a sewage pump engaged and produced waste discharging over the side,” the report reads. The officers told the crew to secure the valve in the off position, which they did. The statement also says that a “shore side sewage fitting was missing.”
Later that afternoon, the officers returned to the yacht alongside officers from the DEC. They contacted Vaccaro via cell phone and asked where the missing part to the septic system was. He was unsure, according to the report: “Mr. Vaccaro then told me he would refer to one of his captains in Miami.” Vaccaro was then able to direct the officers to the missing part. “I explained to Mr. Vaccaro that his sewage tank is full,” the report stated. It was agreed that the tank would be pumped empty the next morning.
However, Vaccaro’s legal difficulties were not over. Besides the four misdemeanors, when the DEC officers ran his personal information, they discovered an outstanding warrant for his arrest out of Broward County on a felony charge related to the alleged failure to pay sales tax from a used car business in Fort Lauderdale between February 2015 and July 2016. He was placed under arrest based on the warrant on July 27, and was held overnight in a cell in Riverside. He was first brought to East Hampton Justice Court to be arraigned on a fugitive from justice charge on July 28.
His attorney, Edward Burke Jr., told East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana that the tax issue was being handled, and would be resolved when the banks opened that Monday, July 30. According to the complaint on file in East Hampton, the state of Florida accused Vaccaro of under-paying them by almost $170,000. Justice Rana set bail at $1000, which was posted. Justice Rana ordered him back to court that week, so that he could be arraigned on the misdemeanor charges, which was done on August 2. He is due back in court August 16.