Hadley men to pay $5,000 each in restitution in connection with river concrete dumping case

  • A large debris pile of broken pieces of concrete, which appear to be from a demolition, was found on the eastern shore of the Connecticut River off River Drive in North Hadley in the spring of 2016. Two men agreed Monday to pay a combined $10,000 in fines. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Two men criminally charged in the illegal dumping of concrete into the Connecticut River in the spring of 2016 have each agreed to pay $5,000 in restitution.

Christopher Baj and Matthew Olszewski agreed Monday in Eastern Hampshire District Court to pay the amount. The two men had been charged with one count of violating a trash treatment facility regulation, one count of polluting commonwealth waters, one count of erecting a nuisance in public waters and three wetlands violations.

The restitution agreement does not mean that either man admitted guilt or admitted there were sufficient facts to prove them guilty. Instead, the men have been placed on pre-trial probation. The charges will be dismissed upon the completion of restitution payments which the men have a year to make, according to court documents.

“The illegal dumping of concrete along the Connecticut River was appalling,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said in a statement. “We were able to clean up the site and hold the offenders accountable. It was only through the hard work of investigators we were able to solve and successfully prosecute this case.”

The Hadley Police Department, state Department of Environmental Protection and state Environmental Police, following up on a report of 100 yards of concrete dumped along the Connecticut River, alleged that Baj, 42, of Hadley Concrete Services LLC, was responsible.

The DEP ordered Baj to clean up the pile, and he did.

Baj already paid $6,000 to clean up the concrete, according to his attorney Mark T. Brennan of Pittsfield. Brennan said his client had been singled out unnecessarily as there have been other, more egregious instances of dumping that never resulted in criminal charges.

“I think we’ve killed the mosquito with an atomic bomb pretty well,” Brennan said Tuesday morning.

The criminal charges in April — a year after the incident first made headlines — when Baj and Olszewski, 32, of Hadley, were arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court. Olszewski is the manager of Four Seasons Property Maintenance LLC in Hadley, according to state records.

“He was cleared of all criminal wrongdoing and is paying a fine,” Philip Ciccarelli, the Amherst attorney representing Olszewski, said by phone Monday.

Ciccarelli continued that everything has been cleared and cleaned and that there is no issue with the property.

“He is happy is able to put this behind him,” Ciccarelli said. “We thought it was a good resolution all around.”

The restitution payments will be split equally between two state accounts — the Massachusetts Natural Resources Damages program and the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Conservation Trust and Urban Parks Trust Fund.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.