Bryan Cohen Sep. 24, 2013, 7:28pm

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced two lawsuits on Tuesday against the owner-operators of a Roxbury Township landfill alleging that they defrauded the Department of Environmental Protection.

Strategic Environmental Partners LLC, Richard Bernardi and Marilyn Bernardi, the owner-operators of the Fenimore Landfill, allegedly fraudulently gained DEP approval for a solar-related development project by failing to disclose close to $2.5 million in corporate and personal debt, misappropriated up to $3.4 million in landfill tipping fees and created a public nuisance by failing to control noxious hydrogen sulfide emissions from the landfill.

"The irresponsible, unlawful actions of these defendants not only have cost the state a significant amount of money and fouled our environment in a general sense, they have exposed an entire community, including many school children, to noxious odors that are extremely unpleasant to live with and have the potential to make people feel ill," Hoffman said. "The time for talk and excuses is past. The citizens of New Jersey, and especially the residents of Roxbury Township, deserve better, and that is why we've taken this aggressive legal action on behalf of the state today."

The first lawsuit alleges the defendants failed to deliver on promised environmental controls, kept all tipping revenues for themselves and failed to deposit millions of dollars collected in escrow as required.

The second lawsuit alleges violations of New Jersey's Solid Waste Management and Air Pollution Control Act and seeks $4.41 million in civil penalties, in addition to injunctive relief.

To date, the DEP issued 12 administrative orders and notices of civil penalty assessment against the Bernardis for a total of $898,000 in administrative penalties. Strategic Environmental Partners LLC was found guilty in Roxbury Township Municipal Court of 26 separate violations of local ordinance for causing a public health nuisance.

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