A judge on Thursday delayed Atlas Asphalt owner Ronald Cianciulli’s sentencing, citing that the state Department of Environmental Conservation has not completed its final inspection of the Deer Park wetlands site that the defendant claims has been cleared of all contaminated debris.
State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho set a new sentencing date for Sept. 8.
Camacho last June found Cianciulli guilty of two felonies and two misdemeanors for helping to dump tons of contaminated debris in a state-protected wetland.
“There’s still unanswered questions that need to be answered before I decide what a fair sentence is,” Camacho said in court.
The judge stated the property owner, April Masie, said she is owed $100,000 in lost business and legal fees due to the dumping and is asking for restitution to be ordered at sentencing. Camacho said Cianciulli’s sentencing delay will allow him to research whether he is legally allowed to order such restitution and for Masie to submit to the court documentation that will support her claim.
Cianciulli’s attorney, John Carman of Garden City, said outside court that Masie’s restitution request is “atypical for this type of case” and while he will check to see whether his client is legally obligated to pay restitution, some agreement “will likely happen” by the next sentencing date.
“Mr. Cianciulli is determined to put this case behind him and if it involves a payment of restitution, that is a price he is probably willing to pay,” Carman said.
The issue of whether Cianciulli will serve jail time as part of his sentence has not been openly discussed in court.
After the brief court appearance, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Michelle Pitman said that because of the specificity of wetlands’ vegetation, the remediation work at the site required not only the removal of contaminated debris, but also a restoration of native plant species. The DEC still needs to send a wetlands expert to the site to check that the requirement has been met, Pitman said.
Pitman said that because Cianciulli made good on his promise to clean up the site, she has made a recommendation for a split sentence to include some incarceration time and some probation time. It is up to the judge to make the final determination.
Camacho found Cianciulli guilty of two E-class felonies: third-degree endangering the public health, safety or the environment with dieldrin; and third-degree endangering the public health, safety or environment for recklessly engaging in conduct that caused the release to the environment of more than 2,000 pounds of a hazardous substance. He also found Cianciulli guilty of two A-class misdemeanors: fourth-degree endangering the public health, safety or the environment with asbestos; and operating a solid-waste management facility without a permit.
Cianciulli was found not guilty of the top charge of second-degree criminal mischief, a D-class felony, and of a violation of engaging in regulated activities within mapped freshwater wetlands without a permit.
Cianciulli’s sentencing will mark the final disposition for charges included in a December 2014 dumping indictment, which charged Cianciulli; Tom Datre Jr.; his father, Tom Datre Sr.; Christopher Grabe of Islandia Recycling; and former Islip Town Parks Commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr. and his former secretary, Brett A. Robinson. Charges against Datre Sr. were dropped.