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State attorney general considers civil action in Brentwood park dumping case

Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood remains closed after

Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood remains closed after dumping contaminated the soil there, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 Credit: Chuck Fadely

The New York State attorney general's office said it is considering pursuing a civil enforcement action aimed at seeking "redress" for the dumping of thousands of tons of contaminated fill at a Brentwood park.

The civil action, if filed, would be separate from the Suffolk County district attorney's ongoing criminal case, in which six men and four companies were indicted in December in connection with a scheme to dump contaminated fill at four sites: Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, a privately owned parcel in Central Islip, a six-home development for war veterans in Islandia, and a state-protected wetlands area in Deer Park.

All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty in that case.

In a statement this week, attorney general spokeswoman Elizabeth DeBold said the office is "exploring the possibility of civil enforcement action to seek redress for the community surrounding Roberto Clemente Park."

She did not elaborate on the timeline of the potential civil action, who would be named as a defendant in the action or the nature of any redress.

DeBold also said the office has "offered assistance" to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota in his criminal investigation, and that it stands "ready to help any way we can, without interfering."

A spokesman for the district attorney's office declined to comment.

Eric Hofmeister, commissioner of Islip Town's Department of Environmental Control, said the town would "continue to work diligently with all of the investigative agencies to ensure that the parties responsible will be held accountable to our residents and taxpayers."

Typically in such cases, a civil action would be brought once any criminal case is concluded, sources said.

A civil suit could seek damages from those found criminally responsible on behalf of residents who have been denied use of the park, which has been closed since the dumping investigation began in April, sources said.

In May, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman met with community activists and elected officials at Roberto Clemente Park, where he called the dumping of 50,000 tons of contaminated fill there "like the environmental equivalent of a serial killer."

Legis. Monica R. Martinez (D-Brentwood), who wrote two letters to Schneiderman this year asking that he discuss possible state involvement in the Suffolk County dumping case, said she welcomed the idea of a civil action.

"I'm actually very glad to hear this," Martinez said. "I think this will bring a lot of comfort to our residents, knowing that the state is also getting involved."


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