Illegally Storing Flood-Damaged Cars Nets Fines

Thousands of storm-damaged and water-logged cars, ruined by Hurricane Sandy, were parked in a 40-acre field in Mansfield, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

The Burlington County manufacturer who illegally stored flood-damaged vehicles on his property off Route 295 when Hurricane Sandy hit has been fined more than $20,000.

Karl Massaro, owner of Vanco Trailer Manufacturing, had allowed 3,500 ruined cars, trucks and boats to be deposited on an unused portion of his lot in Mansfield last November without obtaining township permission.

A Mansfield Township judge issued the fine earlier this month after Vanco pleaded guilty to zoning violations, said Robin Bucchi, the zoning officer.

Massaro could not be reached for comment.

"The lot looks clean now, and it looks like they tilled the soil to plant grass," Bucchi said. She said that all of the vehicles were removed last month after the zoning board refused to approve the storage.

The mayor had accused Vanco of "dumping the cars in the night" and said the company created a hazard and eyesore. Massaro had leased the land to Copart USA, a Dallas-based firm that conducts online auctions of salvaged vehicles. He said earlier that the vehicles were being temporarily stored there so they could be processed for re-sale. His lawyers said that the storm had created an emergency and that Massaro did not think he was doing anything wrong by accepting the vehicles.

The vehicles were among the estimated 72,000 that were destroyed in the storm.