Thomas Datre Jr., on trial in a scheme to dump tons of debris at four Suffolk sites, told police investigating a 2013 truck accident at one of the locations that the upended vehicle discarding materials belonged to him, according to witness testimony Thursday at his Central Islip trial.
Suffolk Police Officer Dennis O’Donnell told prosecutors he and his partner encountered Datre Jr. about 10 minutes after the truck tipped over at a 1-acre Central Islip site on April 30, 2013, where authorities said the developer paid drivers to dump contaminated demolition debris.
“He just approached myself and my partner and said his name, ‘this is my lot, my truck, Milone works for me,’ ” O’Donnell told Assistant District Attorney Robert Kerr about his conversation with Datre about truck driver Michael Milone.
Milone testified Wednesday in the trial of Datre Jr. and his father, Thomas Datre Sr. that he hauled several loads of demolition material from New York City and dumped them at the four sites, including the Central Islip location. He told prosecutors the truck flipped over on its left side as the materials were being unloaded.
Th Datres face charges of criminal mischief; endangering public health, safety or the environment; and operating a solid-waste management facility without a permit. The pair, along with four others, were indicted in December 2014 on charges related to the dumping of contaminated dirt and debris at the four sites.
A year after the Central Islip truck accident, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said contaminated debris was found at the locations. He has accused the Datres and four others of conspiring to dump debris containing cancer-causing chemicals, glass, and chunks of concrete and brick at the four locations after picking it up from Queens and Brooklyn.
The investigation into the dumping began in April 2014 at the site of soccer field renovations at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, one year after the Central Islip truck accident.
The park is one of the sites where drivers working for Datre Jr. testified they dumped truckloads of demolition materials from Queens and Brooklyn. The investigation eventually expanded to include the 1-acre Central Islip lot as well as an Islandia subdivision designed for returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a wetlands area in Deer Park in Babylon Town.
O’Donnell’s testimony came after a former acting Islip Town supervisor told Assistant District Attorney Mark Murray Thursday that Joseph Montuori Jr., also indicted in the dumping scheme and a Islip Town parks commissioner in 2013, assured other town officials a renovation project at Clemente Park was going smoothly.
Across the road from the Central Islip site sits a PSEG building, and behind that, a yard where Suffolk Police officers park their cruisers, O’Donnell testified. Often, O’Donnell said, he would see the Islip Avenue site as he picked up and dropped off his work vehicle.
Over time, O’Donnell said, he saw cesspool rings on the lot and large, eighteen-wheeler dump trucks going in and dumping materials sometime between 2012 and 2013.
“I just thought somebody bought the lot and had a sand and gravel business.”
O’Donnell testified he had not been trained in environmental conservation laws or regulations.
However, Datre Jr.’s defense attorney, Kevin Kearon pressed O’Donnell during his cross examination about whether the Suffolk police officer considered anything “unusual” about what he saw. O’Donnell replied, “No.”
The officer told Kearon Thursday that to his knowledge, he never saw what the defense attorney described as “illegal” or “inappropriate” activity.
Earlier Thursday, former acting Islip Town supervisor Eric Hofmeister told Murray that during an August 2013 meeting with other town officials about the Clemente Park renovations, questions came up about whether a permit was needed.
Montuori Jr. assured town officials several times the soccer field renovations were going well, Hofmeister told Murray.
The former supervisor also said on the witness stand that former Islip Town Coucilman Anthony S. Senft — now a judge in Suffolk County District Court — tried to block the issuing of a permit.