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Suit: Dirt used at Veterans Way homes in Islandia came from 2nd dump site

Contaminated fill from this Central Islip property, shown

Contaminated fill from this Central Islip property, shown in a Dec, 9, 2015, photo, was trucked to the Veterans Way housing development, a lawsuit alleges. Credit: James Carbone

The contaminated fill at a six-home development for veterans in Islandia named in an dumping investigation came from another dumping site targeted in the probe, according to allegations in a multimillion lawsuit a group of the homeowners have filed against seven companies.

In the suit, filed Oct. 27 in State Supreme Court in Riverhead, the owners of five of the six properties at Veterans Way allege the fill — construction and demolition debris containing hydrocarbons, pesticides and metals — was trucked to the development from a 1-acre property at the corner of Sage Street and Route 111 in Central Islip.

The companies that constructed the homes should have known illegal dumping was occurring as they built the development, according to the suit, which names four builders — Ornstein Layton Realty of Garden City, Benchmark Home Builders of Huntington Station, Lewis Construction of Plainview and The Beechwood Organization of Jericho.

The suit also names L-C Real Estate Group — the owner of the Sage Street property — Christopher Grabe’s company, Islandia Recycling of Brentwood, and Ronald Cianciulli’s Islip-based firm, Atlas Home Improvement Corp. of Long Island. Both Grabe and Cianciulli were indicted last year by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office in connection with the dumping probe.

Suffolk County District Thomas Spota has said the Sage Street and Veterans Way locations are among four Islip-area sites where materials were dumped illegally.

In the suit, the homeowners allege that “the majority” of the fill dumped at Veterans Way was taken directly from the Sage Street site, “with active assistance” by Islandia Recycling, which it alleged “participated in operating the Sage Street Dump,” and “knowingly provided most of the waste, debris and soil delivered to Veterans Way” during the dumping.

Atlas Home Improvement Corp., doing business as Atlas Asphalt, trucked waste to Sage Street, the suit alleges, and both Atlas and Islandia knew the fill was contaminated.

Property value ‘destroyed’

“The property value of the homes has been destroyed,” according to the suit, which seeks total damages of more than $11 million.

Peter Creedon, the Northport attorney representing the homeowners, said there was “an overwhelmingly good reason to believe the materials at Veterans Way came from Sage Street.”

Spota has said the contaminants found at Veterans Way were similar to those found at the three other dumping sites.

Creedon said he took photographs of the fill at Sage from over the fence to compare it to what was found at Veterans Way.

“To the eye they appear identical,” he said, later asking: “Where else would they come from?”

A man who identified himself as the owner of Benchmark Home Builders called the lawsuit “spurious.”

“I’m paying no attention to it,” he said, declining further comment.

Representatives from The Beechwood Organization, Ornstein Layton Realty and Lewis Construction did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

An attorney representing Grabe did not respond to a request for comment, while John Carman of Garden City, who represents Atlas, said he had not seen the suit.

Andrew Preston of Mineola, who represents L-C Real Estate Group, whose managing member is Islip Town GOP contributor Tommy Lau, filed an answer Monday that denied the allegations in the suit and requested it be dismissed.

At a short hearing Wednesday before Justice Arthur G. Pitts, Creedon agreed to drop a motion he filed last week to temporarily stop the removal of materials from Sage Street so he could get on the property to photograph the fill.

The removal must be completed within 225 days of Nov. 16, the day the plan was approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, according to an agreement reached between L-C Real Estate Group and the state.

The two sides agreed that Creedon could enter the property within the next three weeks to photograph, but that the removal could continue in the meantime.

“With the help of the court, we’re accommodating his request,” said Michael White of Woodbury, another attorney representing L-C Real Estate Group.

“I’m glad I would have the opportunity to take pictures in there,” Creedon said after the hearing, adding that his goal was to “try to see if materials there are physically similar or identical to materials at Veterans Way.”

Trials related to sites underway

Last December, six men and four companies were indicted on charges relating to alleged illegal dumping at Veterans Way, Sage Street, Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood and a state-protected wetlands area in Deer Park.

Those men — Thomas Datre Sr., his son Thomas Datre Jr., former Islip Town Parks Commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr. and his former executive secretary Brett Robinson, Grabe and Cianciulli — and the four Datre family companies all have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Jury selection in that trial is scheduled to start Feb. 9.

Five counts in that indictment related to the alleged illegal dumping at Veterans Way.

Thomas Datre Sr., who headed the charitable arm of the Long Island Builders Institute that built the Veterans Way development in 2013, was charged with five counts for allegedly knowingly allowing his son to bring “bad material” to the site. Thomas Datre Jr. was charged with the same five counts relating to Veterans Way, as were two Datre family companies: 5 Brothers Farming Corp. and Daytree at Cortland Square.

The lawsuit is the third filed by the group of Veterans Way homeowners since the dumping there was discovered last year.

Days after last December’s indictments, the homeowners filed suit against the two Datre men and the four companies named in the indictment.

And in June, the homeowners filed a lawsuit against the Long Island Home Builders Care Development Corp., the Long Island Builders Institute, William Zorn, Bob Davis, Jay Ratto — men identified as officers and directors of both organizations — in addition to Zorn Industries Inc., Zorn Landscaping Inc., Thomas Datre Sr., Thomas Datre Jr. and the four Datre family companies.

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