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Felony conviction in Deer Park dumping case overturned

Ronald Cianciulli successfully appealed felony charges in a

Ronald Cianciulli successfully appealed felony charges in a Deer Park dumping case. Credit: Ed Betz

Ronald Cianciulli, the owner of a Deer Park-based asphalt company implicated in an illegal dumping scheme, has successfully appealed his felony convictions related to the case.

State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in 2016 found Cianciulli, the owner of Atlas Asphalt, guilty of the E-class felony of third-degree endangering the public health, safety or the environment with dieldrin, and the E-class felony of 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.

Cianciulli's involvement stems from aiding Thomas Datre Jr. in dumping debris from New York City construction sites at a Deer Park location owned by April Masie of Wantagh and adjacent to state-protected wetlands. 

In August, the felony convictions were vacated by the state Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department.

"There was legally insufficient evidence that the defendant was aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the dumping, screening, and processing of the construction and demolition debris would result in the release of hazardous and acutely hazardous substances," the appellate judges wrote in their decision. 

Cianciulli remains convicted 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. Camacho had sentenced him to a conditional discharge.

"My family and I are grateful that the facts in this case proved my innocence after all," Cianciulli said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that it took an appeal to make that happen but the truth always prevails."

His attorney John Carman of Garden City said Cianciulli has spent his own money to help clean up the contamination at the site.

"He helped personally to physically go back and remediate the properties that belonged to the Maisies and he paid probably over $100,000 to get the job done — money that nobody else really had available," Carman said. "So he certainly stepped up to the plate there."

The case underscores the need for tougher environmental crime laws in New York State, Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a statement.

"We are committed to working with our legislative partners in State Government to enact changes to our laws in order to empower district attorney's offices to protect our residents and our environment from these types of crimes and hold bad actors accountable,” Sini said.

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