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Islip dumping case will go to trial before any possible fraud case, judge says

From left, Clara Datre, Gia Gatien, and Thomas

From left, Clara Datre, Gia Gatien, and Thomas Datre Jr., stand outside of a courtroom in Central Islip, Oct. 2, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

The Islip dumping trial -- to begin in February -- will now precede any new fraud case brought against three members of the Datre family, a Supreme Court justice said Thursday.

Justice Fernando Camacho, who granted a mistrial without prejudice Oct. 13 in the fraud case, said Thursday that there is "much more litigation to be done."

Both the fraud case and the dumping case involve members of the Datre family.

In the fraud case, Clara Datre, her company Daytree at Cortland Square Inc., her son Thomas Datre Jr. and her daughter, Gia Gatien, have been charged in a 492-count indictment alleging invoices to the Town of Islip for cleanup work after superstorm Sandy were padded by about $148,504, and that about $100,000 in prevailing wages were held from employees who performed work for a separate tree-trimming contract with the town.

The dumping case involves Datre Jr., his father, Thomas Datre Sr., four Datre companies and four others. They were indicted on various charges stemming from their alleged roles in what Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has described as a scheme to illegally dump tens of thousands of tons of contaminated debris at four sites in and around the Town of Islip, including town-owned Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood; a private 1-acre lot in Central Islip; a six-home veterans subdivision in Islandia; and a wetlands area in Deer Park.

All defendants in both cases have pleaded not guilty.

The mistrial in the fraud case came after Edward Heilig, the Suffolk County district attorney office division chief, admitted in court Oct. 6 that his colleague, Assistant District Attorney Leslie Stevens, used a pencil to change the dates and/or the work order numbers on three of the 225 certified payrolls that were submitted to Islip Town.

Those documents were shown to the grand jury last year and were entered into exhibits attached to the indictment unsealed in December. Stevens then sometime later erased those markings.

Camacho has yet to rule on an Oct. 13 defense motion to dismiss the indictment.

Prosecutors also have asked Camacho to dismiss the indictment as long as they retain the option of presenting the evidence -- minus the three altered certified payroll sheets -- again to a new grand jury.

Thursday, defense attorneys said in an eight-page filing that Spota's office needs to turn over the minutes from the grand jury that saw the altered certified payroll sheets.

"As this court has already noted, the disclosure of the grand jury minutes is necessary here because, without them, the defense simply cannot be expected to argue or to demonstrate the prejudicial impact of the people's misconduct on the other counts of this indictment," attorney Donna Aldea wrote.

Heilig will have a week to reply to the defense's filing, Camacho said.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Spota, declined to answer questions about Stevens or the case, including if any disciplinary actions have been taken against the prosecutor. "All of the matters you refer to are the subject of ongoing litigation and therefore we decline to comment," Clifford said in an email. "We await the court's decision on all of the pending motions."

In July, Camacho made the decision to put the fraud case first because "it was a simpler case to try," court spokesman Robert F. Quinlan said.


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