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At Datre dumping trial, witness testifies park debris looked like 'trash'

Thomas Datre Sr., left, with his wife Clara,

Thomas Datre Sr., left, with his wife Clara, along with their son Thomas Datre Jr., in court in Central Islip Thursday where the father and son are on trial on allegations they dumped contaminated debris. Credit: James Carbone

A church member who oversaw renovations to a Brentwood soccer field in 2013 testified Thursday at a father and son’s dumping trial that an initial pile of “clean” dirt was delivered to the Broadway park by another defendant in the case but several subsequent loads left debris containing chunks of brick and cement.

William Carrillo-Veliz — a congregant at Iglesia de Jesucristo Palabra Miel — told prosecutor Michelle Pitman through a Spanish-language interpreter he needed the dirt to shore up soccer fields in disrepair at Roberto Clemente Park. Islip Town had already delivered a load of fill for the fields, Carrillo-Veliz said in a Central Islip courtroom Thursday, but he needed more.

The self-employed mason took the stand on the third day of testimony in the trial of Thomas Datre Sr. and his son, Thomas Datre Jr. The pair are among six men facing multiple charges related to the dumping of a contaminated mix of dirt and debris at four sites in Deer Park and Islip Town, including Roberto Clemente Park. The Datres are charged with criminal mischief; endangering public health, safety or the environment; and operating a solid waste management facility without a permit.

Carrillo-Velez said he soon met Christopher Grabe of Islandia Recycling — also charged in the dumping case — and asked him if he could purchase some clean fill from a 1-acre private lot on Islip Avenue in Central Islip where trucks were dumping dirt. Grabe offered to give him the dirt free of charge from the lot, Carrillo-Velez said in court. The lot is among one the four sites where investigators have said contaminated debris was dumped.

“I asked him, ‘How much?’,” Carrillo-Veliz told Pitman through the interpreter. “He told me, ‘Don’t worry. I’m going to help you.’ ”

Grabe initially brought 80 yards of fill, which was “clean material,” Carrillo-Veliz said. But in the two weeks after that, Grabe began bringing truckload after truckload of fill in vehicles with green cabs bearing the insignia “D”.

The trucks dumped the debris, which Carrillo-Velez said looked like “trash” with chunks of brick and cement, on the soccer fields.

Grabe soon after brought heavy machinery to the site.

Trucks with lime green cabs, bearing the letter “D,” are part of a fleet of hauling equipment used by Datre Jr.’s companies.

A December 2014 indictment cited the Datres, Grabe and three others for their roles in the alleged dumping of thousands of tons of contaminated debris at the soccer fields and a recharge basin at the park; a six-home subdivision in Islandia dubbed Veterans Way and built for veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Central Islip lot and a sensitive wetlands area in Deer Park in Babylon Town.

Carrillo-Veliz said he and the church’s pastor spoke with Grabe and told him to stop bringing in the “bad” fill, but Grabe wouldn’t stop. “We lost control,” of the project,” Carrillo-Veliz said.

During cross examination, Datre Jr.’s Garden City defense attorney, Kevin Kearon, read aloud several portions of Carrillo-Velez’s grand jury testimony. The witness told Pitman Thursday he never asked Grabe to deliver the additional piles of debris. In his cross examination, Kearon read Carrillo-Velez a portion of his grand jury testimony where he answered that he indeed requested the additional fill.

When Kearon asked Carrillo-Velez if he told the grand jury that he asked Grabe to bring more fill and Grabe said he had more and would “hook it up” without charging, Carrillo-Veliz said, “Honestly, I don’t remember.”

“So everything else I asked you about, you remember, but that part you don’t remember?,” Kearon asked.

“Yes, that’s right,” Carrillo-Veliz said.

Early in Carrillo-Veliz’s testimony, an interpreter brought in by the court to translate was removed from the case after misinterpreting a question asked by Pitman.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho, a fluent Spanish speaker, heard the inconsistency and halted Pitman’s examination.

“In a case like this,” Camacho said, “there’s a tremendous importance” in the exact words and terminologies being used. He called the misinterpretation “not acceptable.”

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