A Suffolk man who agreed to clean up tons of contaminated materials as part a guilty plea in a dumping scheme, has so far failed to secure a disposal site, prompting a judge Wednesday to warn that time is running out for the convicted felon to honor the deal’s terms.
State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho met in his chambers with attorneys before returning to his courtroom and calling the delay a “major stumbling block,” leaving tens of thousands of tons of debris untouched at the dumping sites that spurred Thomas Datre Jr.’s March conviction.
“While I understand and I appreciate the fact that at this point, he hasn’t been able to do much in terms of the cleanup because there hasn’t been a resolution as to where this material can go,” Camacho said, “at some point, I think that I’m going to have to say to Mr. Datre that that opportunity will no longer be available because I’m not going to keep waiting forever.”
Christopher Grabe, of Islandia Recycling, also charged in the dumping scheme, pleaded guilty along with Datre Jr. March 30.
Camacho pushed back the pair’s sentencings to allow for clean up at a private 1-acre lot on Islip Avenue in Central Islip and a state-protected sensitive wetland area off Brook Avenue in Deer Park. In accepting their guilty pleas, Camacho said he would take into consideration any “good faith” efforts put forth by the defendants to rid the areas of the hazardous materials while determining their prison terms.
If they comply with deal, Datre Jr. could face between 1 to 3 years in prison and Grabe, six months behind bars with 5 years probation.
The judge initially set a June 27 deadline for completion of cleanup at the Central Islip site. At a June 9 hearing, Camacho extended the deadline until the end of summer after Kevin Kearon, Datre Jr.’s attorney, said his client had yet to find a disposal site while assuring the judge both locations “should be fully remediated certainly by the end of summer and quite possibly well before then.”
In the sixth week of the trial for himself and his father, Thomas Datre Sr., Datre Jr. pleaded guilty to four felonies for dumping at the Central Islip and Deer Park locations as well as at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood and a six home subdivision in Islandia for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Because Datre Jr. accepted responsibility for his role in trucking contaminated construction and demolition debris from New York City to the four sites, prosecutors dropped all charges against Datre Sr.
Grabe, whose case did not go to trial, pleaded guilty to dumping at Clemente Park as well as at the Islip Avenue site. He agreed to help with the cleanup work at those two sites as well as the Deer Park location.
Islip Town hired a firm to clean up Clemente Park in the summer of 2015 and a charity group has done the same several times in the past two years at the Islandia development on Veterans Way. While free of any contaminants, Clemente Park remains in disarray — locked and shuttered to the public for more than two years.
The owner of the Central Islip site, Tommy Lau, was not charged in the dumping but has agreed to help in the cleanup of his property. April Masie and her mother Margaret Masie, both of Wantagh, and owners of the Deer Park site, have said they do not have the financial means to complete the costly clean up.
Kearon of Garden City, told Camacho Wednesday his client remains “ready, willing and able to participate in any way he can.” Kearon also said he has met with state Department of Environmental Conservation officials and planned to discuss proposals for Clemente Park with Islip officials later Wednesday. Kearon said he hopes to “have a more favorable report on actual progress” at the next conference date set for on Aug. 16.
Datre Jr. has hired an independent environmental engineer to help with plans to clean up both sites.
Camacho told those involved with the cleanup that when the costs for the effort is determined, “you will sit down and you will discuss whether you can afford to pay this and if you can, the cleanup will begin. And if you can’t, so be it.”
A fourth defendant, Ronald Cianciulli, owner of Atlas Asphalt, was found guilty after a bench trial June 3 for helping Datre Jr. dump at the Deer Park site. Cianciulli’s attorney, John Carman of Garden City, attended the conference Wednesday after expressing his client’s interest in helping to remediate the Masie property.
Camacho did not say what would happen to the future of the two sites if the cleanup is not completed.
Two open cases related to the Dec. 8, 2014 indictment remain against former Islip Town Parks Commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr. and his former secretary Brett A. Robinson. All parties are due back in court Aug. 16.