Contempt of court charge filed against North Country junkyard owner
CONCORD — Attorney General John M. Formella on Monday announced the arrest of Lancaster resident Daniel Benoit Sr. for indirect civil contempt of court, a charge based on his longstanding refusal to comply with a series of court orders regarding his property at 600 Main St.
Benoit is accused of failing to abide by orders issued over the course of four years, from July 2018 through September.
The orders required Benoit to cease operating his motor vehicle and scrap metal yard until he brought the site into compliance with state solid waste and hazardous waste laws, Formella said.
According to Formella, the court ordered Benoit’s arrest after first finding him in contempt of the court’s orders on six prior occasions since 2019 — and after the imposition of $100,000 in fines, as well as an additional $55,500 in contempt sanctions, proved insufficient to incentivize Benoit to initiate and sequentially complete the court-ordered cleanup of his illegal motor vehicle salvage (junkyard) and scrap metal yard.
Benoit has since been released on bail, with conditions that require him to initiate cleanup efforts on one area of his auto salvage yard/scrap metal facility and to complete the cleanup of that first site no later than Jan. 15. He is also required to sequentially complete the cleanup of nine other areas of the site pursuant to a compliance schedule imposed by the court’s Nov. 1, 2021 order (one area at a time, 60 days to clean up each area).
The court cautioned Benoit that any continued failure to comply with the court’s orders could result in his reincarceration for indirect civil contempt.
The court has scheduled a review hearing for Feb. 6 to re-assess Benoit’s compliance, following another NHDES inspection of the site 3-5 days before the Feb. 6 hearing.
According to Formella, representatives of the state Department of Environmental Services Solid Waste Management Bureau and the Motor Vehicle Salvage Yard Program have attempted to work with Benoit since December 2013 in an effort to get the site into compliance.
He said his office has also brought suit and secured a judgement against Benoit in July 2018, which deferred civil penalties but required Benoit to bring the site into compliance.
The court ordered Benoit to remove all end-of-life (junk) vehicles from the site; to stop accepting additional end-of-life vehicles; to remove all containerized motor vehicle fluids; remove all junk car parts and solid waste (including household garbage) and waste tires from 10 areas on the site.
Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256 or email@example.com.