A Suffolk judge has thrown out a 472-count indictment against members of a Ronkonkoma firm that prosecutors allege failed to pay the state-mandated prevailing wage to its workers, and, in a rare move, released 84 pages of normally secret grand jury minutes.
State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho ruled in a decision made public yesterday that nearly 500 counts against Clara Datre of Hauppauge, her son Thomas Datre Jr. of St. James and her daughter Gia Gatien of Hauppauge may be dismissed, with 16 of them to be quashed “with prejudice,” meaning they cannot be filed against the defendants again.
Suffolk prosecutors had agreed to dismiss the indictment back in October, in the wake of a mistrial stemming from a prosecutor’s error.
Attorney Donna Aldea of Garden City, who represents the firm, Daytree at Cortland Square, said she would be examining the 84 pages of grand jury minutes to determine whether she will ask that more counts be dismissed with prejudice.
The dismissal comes in the wake of admissions by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office that a prosecutor admitted in court to having used a pencil to change the dates and/or work order numbers on three of 225 certified payrolls shown to the grand jury. That assistant district attorney has been removed from the case, but apparently not sanctioned, which Aldea said her clients are seeking in addition to legal fees.
“I have never seen misconduct this egregious in the grand jury or, for that matter, anywhere,” Aldea said.
Camacho decided to postpone a decision on sanctioning the prosecutor or whether any remaining counts should be dismissed with prejudice or the defendants be reimbursed for legal fees.
In a statement, Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, said of Camacho’s decision: “The Judge dismissed the counts we have consented be dismissed and held in abeyance the defendants’ request for sanctions and costs and the dismissal of the other charges.”
The case is next scheduled to be argued before Camacho on Jan. 15.