Smithtown may pull contract with carter
A Bay Shore carting firm accused of stealing more than $200,000 worth of recyclable paper collected from Smithtown residents on Tuesday faced the possible loss of its contract with the town.
The move came as Babylon Town officials in a public meeting played a surveillance video showing one of two employees accused of diverting paper and cardboard in the Smithtown case still working for the company, despite the assertion by company leaders that he had been fired.
That firm, Jody Enterprises Inc., faces the potential loss of municipal contracts worth tens of millions of dollars following allegations last month by Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota that the firm had stolen paper recyclables from Smithtown and lied to land a 10-year contract to collect trash in Babylon.
Suffolk prosecutors say three men, including the co-owner of a West Babylon salvage firm, diverted materials from Smithtown to the salvage company; they have pleaded not guilty to felony grand larceny charges. Jody Enterprises officials have said they were unaware of the alleged theft. The district attorney's office is investigating.
The Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to hire a hearing officer to weigh the town's recommendation to revoke the contract with Jody, which is paid about $2.15 million annually. The town also plans to sue to recoup its losses from the company and seek bidders to take over its routes, officials said.
"We were shocked that this was occurring, and that's why we're moving so forcefully today against the alleged violations," Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said.No date was announced for the hearing.
As Smithtown officials met Tuesday, Jody executives were telling town officials in Babylon the company would start hauling trash on Oct. 1. The firm had won a $78 million contract to collect the town's trash.
Company officials said they had severed ties with two employees accused of stealing paper from Smithtown. But in a video played at Tuesday's hearing, one of the employees, Michael Dalessandro, 43, of East Patchogue, appears to visit a Jody truck yard last week.
"I observed him interacting with people on the property," said Christine Delello, the private investigator who took the video. "I observed him moving vehicles from the yard out to the street."
Frank Shea, president of investigations for Farmingdale-based Alpha Group, which conducted the surveillance, said Dalessandro was also seen at the Jody offices Tuesday.
Vincent Messina, an attorney for Jody Enterprises, said an explanation of Dalessandro's presence at the site will "be contained in our post-hearing response," which is due on Friday.
Babylon Supervisor Richard Schaffer said the town likely would decide next week if it will work with Jody or use another carter.The town, he said, is in a difficult spot: "We gotta pick up the garbage."