A full cleanup of contaminated construction and demolition debris that was dumped on a Central Islip property three years ago is set to start next week by a hauler who pleaded guilty to illegal dumping crimes last month.
The work is a part of a plea deal struck between prosecutors and Thomas Datre Jr., who pleaded guilty March 31 amid a trial in its sixth week to four counts of endangering the public health, safety or the environment in connection with dumping debris at four sites.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has approved the remediation plan for the removal of the materials at the 1-acre lot on Islip Avenue owned by L-C Realty Corp., headed by Tommy Lau, who will also participate in the efforts, Lau’s attorney, Michael White, said outside a Central Islip courtroom Thursday.
“The DEC is overseeing every aspect and facet of that cleanup and putting in place every possible measure that they believe is appropriate to make sure there is absolutely no danger to the any of the members of the community in the area surrounding that property,” state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho said Thursday during a court hearing.
During the past several months, Lau had removed about 1,200 tons of the materials from the site and taken them to an approved facility out of state, White said. Datre Jr., whose company, 5 Brothers Farming Corp., also pleaded guilty in March, will supply trucks and other equipment to finish the task, said his attorney, Kevin Kearon.
Camacho has deferred sentences for Datre Jr. and Christopher Grabe, of Islandia Recycling, who pleaded guilty to two felonies connected with his role in the dumping at three of four sites, until the two prove they act “in good faith” by helping clean the Islip Avenue site and a sensitive wetlands area in Deer Park, as well as helping to fix up Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, where the two admitted dumping materials during a church-led construction of a soccer field. Grabe’s attorney, Alia F. Richards, did not respond to a request for comment on her client’s participation.
Camacho said the Deer Park property owners, April Masie and her mother Margaret Masie, “did just not have the ability and the resources to ever clean those wetlands.” He said the DEC has deemed the cleanup at the protected wetlands “a priority” due to their sensitive nature.
“This needs to be done right away, not next year or the year after that or five years from now. Right away,” Camacho said.
The debris at Clemente Park was removed by the Town of Islip last summer, but the park remains in disrepair and its gates locked for nearly two years. Camacho said an Islip Town attorney wrote a letter to the court regarding the park and said town officials will be invited for a conference in the future to discuss the project.
A fourth site where debris was dumped, a six-home subdivision in the Village of Islandia built for returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been cleaned up during the past 18 months.
Three other defendants named in the dumping indictment have cases pending. Edward Heilig, the Suffolk County district attorney office’s division chief, said outside of court: “There are constantly plea negotiations going on,” but that prosecutors are ready to proceed to trial against Ronald Cianciulli, owner of Atlas Asphalt, who is charged with crimes relating to the wetlands dumping.
A case against Joseph J. Montuori Jr., a former Islip Town parks commissioner and his former secretary Brett A. Robinson, who were both in court Thursday for a conference, would proceed after resolution in Cianciulli’s case, Heilig said.
Montuori Jr.’s lawyer, John Halverson, said the meeting was “just to take pulse” on their cases.
“I’m not there yet to determine which way we’ll go,” Halverson said of a possible plea deal.
All parties are due back in court May 11.