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One Islip employee hid criminal past, another a firing, on job applications, sources say

(L-R) Records showed that Dennis Barravecchio, 62, of

(L-R) Records showed that Dennis Barravecchio, 62, of Central Islip, did not disclose his dismissal from an employer of more than 30 years on two application forms in 2012 for town positions and Christopher Cacoperdo, 47, of Bay Shore, failed to disclose two misdemeanor convictions for harassment on a Suffolk County civil service form in 2003 while applying for an Islip Town sanitation inspector job. Photo Credit: Handout; Ed Betz

Two employees in the Town of Islip parks department failed to disclose key details of their pasts on their job applications -- one, a criminal history; the other, a previous firing.

The personnel records of Christopher A. Cacoperdo, deputy commissioner, and Dennis J. Barravecchio, executive assistant to the commissioner, were seized by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota's office, sources said.

The employees each have been interviewed at least once by detectives from Spota's office as part of its probe into dumping on Long Island and Islip's parks department, the sources said.

Cacoperdo and Barravecchio were placed into the department this year, records show, by former parks commissioner Joseph Montuori -- a Conservative Party member and a friend and ally of Suffolk County Conservative Party chief Edward Walsh.

Their appointments occurred around the time a partial cleanup was ordered in response to community complaints of dumping at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. Montuori was forced to resign in May after disclosure of Spota's investigation into the dumping of an estimated 50,000 tons of toxin-laden fill at the park.

Cacoperdo is a longtime Republican operative -- close to town GOP leader Frank Tantone -- who has helped organize political campaigns and remains a fundraiser. Barravecchio is a Conservative Party loyalist who is close to Walsh.

Cacoperdo, 47, of Bay Shore, failed to disclose two misdemeanor convictions for harassment on a Suffolk County civil service form in 2003 while applying for an Islip Town sanitation inspector job, records show. Some town jobs require applicants to also complete a county form that asks about criminal history and employment background.

Barravecchio, 62, of Central Islip, did not disclose his dismissal from an employer of more than 30 years on two application forms in 2012 for town positions -- one as a part-time bingo inspector and another as an executive assistant to the commissioner in the town's public works department, records show.

Directly above where both men signed their application forms is a declaration that "the statements made in this application . . . are true and correct," and are "subject to the penalties of perjury."

Councilwoman's candidate

Town sources said Cacoperdo -- whose salary is $70,000 -- was pushed toward the parks department post at the behest of Republican Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt. She declined to take questions on personnel matters.

Supervisor Tom Croci, a Republican who took a leave last year to serve in the Navy Reserves, said Cacoperdo "was hired before I was supervisor" and appointed to the parks department "while I was deployed in Afghanistan."

After Croci's narrow election victory in November 2011 with the help of Conservative voters, Tantone, along with Islip Town Conservative Party leader Michael Torres, sat on Croci's transition team. Shortly after, Conservatives were given key leadership roles for the parks department, including commissioner Montuori and Councilman Anthony Senft, the board's sole Conservative, who became liaison to the department.

Torres pleaded not guilty in November to a felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing for concealing his criminal history on an official Town of Islip employment application. He was appointed to an $8,000-a-year post on the town's assessment review board in January 2013.

District attorney investigators are trying to determine why Torres was consulted by a parks department official on the dumping before the partial cleanup of Roberto Clemente Park in January, sources have said.

Barravecchio, an Islip Conservative Party committeeman, was seen at Clemente Park Jan. 25 while the partial cleanup was in full swing. He had the task of counting debris-filled trucks -- which had lime green cabs emblazoned with the word "Datre" -- as they left the park, sources have said.

The Town of Islip has formally held Daytree at Cortland Square Inc. -- a Datre family firm -- a "responsible party" for the dumping at the park in letters to its insurance companies. Andrew Campanelli, an attorney for Tom Datre Sr. and his wife, Clara Datre, has said he plans to sue the town seeking damages because his clients never engaged in dumping.

Barravecchio did not return calls for comment.

Cacoperdo was hired to Islip's Resource Recovery Agency as a driver/loader on March 4, 1991. In September 2001, he left for a New York City sanitation department job for three months as a driver.

Cacoperdo returned to Islip in August 2003 as a sanitation inspector for the town's department of environmental control. He was made a collections unit manager for the Resource Recovery Agency in August 2012 before his appointment to the parks department Feb. 24 this year, records show.

On an application Cacoperdo signed and dated Aug. 18, 2003, for the sanitation inspector job, he checked the "no" box when asked: "Have you ever been convicted of any crime (felony or misdemeanor)?" He was appointed Aug. 4, 2003, town records show.

On June 8, 1989, according to a criminal complaint, Cacoperdo was inside the Brentwood East Kindergarten Center around 10:10 p.m. when he was told "repeatedly" he was not permitted in the building by Robert Murphy, a Brentwood school security officer. Cacoperdo did not leave, but "did intentionally punch and kick" Murphy in the head and neck, the documents state. Cacoperdo was arrested and charged with third-degree assault, an A-class misdemeanor, and third-degree criminal trespass, a B misdemeanor.

Charged with harassment

On Sept. 25 that year, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges: the assault and trespass charges were dropped to two first-degree harassment charges, B-class misdemeanors, and he was ordered to pay $225 in fines and surcharges, court documents show.

Asked why he did not acknowledge his criminal history on his job applications, Cacoperdo referred reporters to criminal defense attorney Raymond Perini of Hauppauge.

Perini declined to discuss Cacoperdo's criminal history or if he had been interviewed by the district attorney.

In December 2011, Cacoperdo was banned from town property after he sent a threatening email to an outgoing town councilman, town documents show.

Cacoperdo -- a town sanitation inspector acting as a Teamsters Local 237 business agent -- wrote Democratic Councilman Gene Parrington an email that Robert Finnegan, then-town labor relations director, described in correspondence sent to the Teamsters as "inappropriate, unprofessional, abusive and . . . threatening and intimidating to public officials."

Finnegan said the town would no longer recognize Cacoperdo as the union rep and he was banned from town property.

On Jan. 17, 2012, Linda Angello -- appointed by Croci to the labor relations director position -- wrote to the union that the town was rescinding the earlier letter and that Cacoperdo "is permitted on town property."

Croci said he was "unaware of that communication." Angello did not return phone calls and Finnegan declined to comment.

Three months before his promotion to the parks department, Cacoperdo was charged with second-degree harassment after an incident last year in which he allegedly threatened a town Democratic Party volunteer three days before Election Day, court documents show.

The charge was ultimately sealed and dismissed in July, Frank Tantone, Cacoperdo's attorney in that case, has said. Cacoperdo is an Islip Town GOP committeeman under Tantone.

Sources said Barravecchio was fired in July 2012 from his position as a carpet mechanic and salesman at Pat's Carpet Outlet Inc., a Bay Shore flooring store, for allegedly stealing almost $5,000 in cash.

On two job applications signed and dated Aug. 8, 2012, and Oct. 19, 2012, Barravecchio checked the "no" box when asked: "Were you ever dismissed or discharged from any employment for reasons other than lack of work or funds?"

Records provided by the town show Barravecchio was hired as a bingo inspector in July 2012 before leaving that post for the executive assistant to the commissioner of public works on Oct. 20, 2012. He was appointed to the parks department Jan. 6 this year. He earned $55,000 in 2013, records show.

On Sept. 10, 2012, he filed a federal lawsuit for $150,000 against the carpet business and owner Joan Esposito, claiming he worked about 76 hours per week from September 2006 on and was not paid time and a half for overtime, court records show.

Accused of theft

On July 17, 2013, Barravecchio was arrested and charged with grand larceny, a D-class felony, a separate court file shows.

According to the criminal complaint, Barravecchio, "while employed by Pat's Carpets and having no right to do so, did take a sum of currency belonging to Pat's Carpet and value of said currency totaling $4,612" over the period of one week in July 2012.

At his arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Travis Podesta said Barravecchio made "oral admissions to having committed these crimes to members of the police department," a court transcript of the proceeding states.

His attorney, Michael Gajdos of Lake Grove, said, "It's our position these charges are merely a retaliation for him bringing a wrongful termination suit."

On June 11, Barravecchio accepted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, which will allow the record to be sealed and charges expunged if he does not get into legal trouble before Dec. 4.

The federal civil suit was settled on April 14, court records show. The terms are not public. Steven Bertolino, the attorney who represented Barravecchio in the suit, declined to discuss the outcome.

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