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Coram recycling company owner pleads not guilty to state tax charges

Christopher Grabe, 37, of Islandia Recycling, leaves court

Christopher Grabe, 37, of Islandia Recycling, leaves court in Central Islip on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, after his arraignment on tax evasion charges. Credit: Ed Betz

A Coram man under indictment for his alleged role in a dumping scheme in and around Islip Town pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four felony counts related to tax evasion.

Christopher Grabe, 37, of Islandia Recycling, has been charged with not filing complete state tax forms and cheating the state out of nearly $30,000 in taxes.

Grabe was arrested outside a Central Islip courtroom Tuesday morning by two detectives with the Suffolk County District Attorney Tax Crimes Unit after a scheduled court appearance on the dumping case.

In the new case, Grabe is charged with two class D felonies of criminal tax fraud in the third degree; one class E felony of criminal tax fraud in the fourth degree; and one class E felony of offering a false instrument in the first degree for filing, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint states that Grabe "with intent to evade payment of personal income tax . . . concealed and failed to report his true earnings" to the state for tax years 2011, 2012 and 2013.

In addition, in 2012, Grabe allegedly filed a state resident income tax return "which contained false information as to the total 'adjusted gross income' earned," the criminal complaint states, resulting in a "substantial understatement of income."

From 2011 through 2013, Grabe failed to report about $476,281 of income to New York State, resulting in evasion of $28,922 in income taxes, according to District Attorney Thomas Spota's office.

"I spoke briefly to my client and it's pretty much a misunderstanding and when the facts are all laid out on the table, we believe it's all going to sort itself out," said Grabe's attorney, Alia F. Richards of Sayville.

Grabe was released on his own recognizance at his arraignment in Suffolk County First District Court in Central Islip by Judge Janine A. Barbera-Dalli.

Judge Pierce F. Cohalan, who had been presiding over arraignments during morning sessions, recused himself from Grabe's case. Cohalan, who won his judgeship in November, had most recently served as a deputy commissioner in the Town of Islip's Department of Public Works until his swearing in to the bench in January. He has also formerly served as an Islip Town attorney.

The Islip Town's parks department was under investigation last year by Spota's office after 50,000 tons of contaminated debris was found dumped in the town-owned Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.

The probe then spread to three other sites, including a 1-acre private lot on Islip Avenue in Central Islip; a sensitive wetlands area on the Islip-Babylon town border; and a six-home subdivision built for veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Grabe, along with Tom Datre Sr., his son Tom Datre Jr., four Datre companies, former Islip Town parks Commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr., his former secretary Brett A. Robinson, and Ronald Cianciulli, owner of Atlas Asphalt, a Deer Park paving company, were indicted on Dec. 8 on charges relating to their alleged roles in facilitating the illegal dumping.

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