Letitia James launches new “water quality” case after $15 million win


New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing a construction company owner over alleged illegal buildings and storage built near protected wetlands.

James successfully sued Donald Trump for fraud and recently secured a $15.2 million judgment against a New York cannabis dispensary chain. She announced Friday that her office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar filed a lawsuit against Anthony Labriola and his two affiliate companies for building a parking lot and storing heavy-duty construction vehicles in a protected area near wetlands of the Carlls River in West Babylon, Long Island.

James and Mahar accused Labriola and his companies of refusing to remove the equipment and restore the site after being issued a notice of violation in February 2015 for illegally clearing trees and vegetation to build on top of a protected area of wetlands.

Labriola has been contacted for comment via email.

The Carlls River wetlands are listed as Class I wetlands, meaning they are protected and are considered as providing the most environmental benefits. These include providing an area of biological diversity, protecting Long Island’s drinking water, and storing flood and storm surge water.

New York Attorney General Letitia James in New York on February 16, 2024. James is suing the owner of contracting firms for illegally building in a protected area near wetlands.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP/Getty Images

James and the DEC are seeking to require Labriola to clean up the site and for Labriola and his companies to pay at least $591,000 in combined civil penalties.

“New York’s freshwater wetlands are a valuable natural resource, particularly in highly developed areas like western Suffolk County, providing wildlife habitats, flood control, and water quality protection. It is important to protect their benefits for current residents and generations to come,” James said in a statement.

“Anthony Labriola and his companies blatantly violated our environmental laws and continued to evade enforcement efforts, but now we are going to make sure he restores what he has damaged. I want to thank DEC for their continued partnership in defending our natural resources.”

Separately, James announced on Thursday that her office secured a $15.2 million judgment against the owner of seven unlicensed cannabis dispensaries for operating these stores without a license and for illegally selling cannabis to minors.

David Tulley, the owner of the unlicensed dispensary chain called “I’m Stuck” and “Weed Warehouse,” was sued by the City after repeatedly ignoring orders from the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to shut down his operations.

Tulley has now been ordered to pay back the $7 million profits he received from illegally selling cannabis without a license and $8.2 million in penalties for operating without a license and ignoring OCM notices.

“These illegal and unlicensed stores are budding up throughout the state and are hurting our communities,” James said.

“This punishment should serve as a clear warning for all unlicensed cannabis stores in the state: we will enforce the law and shut down your operations.”