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Thomas Datre Jr., mother Clara Datre, sister Gia Gatien due in court Tuesday; face wage charges over Daytree workers in Sandy cleanup, sources say

Clara Datre during an interview on Thursday, May

Clara Datre during an interview on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the News 12 office in Woodbury. Credit: News 12

Three members of the politically influential Datre family were to appear in a Suffolk County court Tuesday to answer charges that they failed to pay their employees the state's prevailing wages for tree-trimming work in the Town of Islip, sources said.

Thomas Datre Jr., 41, of St. James, his mother, Clara Datre, 67, and his sister Gia Gatien, 37, of Hauppauge, are to be arraigned before State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in Central Islip, the sources said.

The court appearance will be the second in as many days for Thomas Datre Jr., who was arraigned Monday on criminal charges stemming from Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota's investigation into the dumping of hazardous waste in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood and at three other sites.

His father, Thomas Datre Sr., also was charged with crimes related to Spota's dumping investigation Monday.

After their court appearances, both men were released without bail, as were two former Islip Town employees and two contractors.

The charges the three Datre family members will face in court Tuesday involve failure to pay state-mandated prevailing wages to employees of Daytree at Cortland Square, a family-owned firm whose president is Clara Datre, the sources said.

The prevailing-wage crime allegations stem from the Datres' filing certified payrolls that portrayed falsely what tree-trimming workers were paid, the sources said.

The Daytree at Cortland Square firm also faces charges of filing false business records, the sources said. Last spring, the Town of Islip formally said the company is responsible for the dumping in Clemente Park.

If convicted on prevailing-wage charges, the firm could face fines and be barred from bidding on public contracts.

The Datres have been prominent fundraisers in Islip for years. Clara Datre lost an election for Islip Town supervisor as a Republican in 2007. She and her husband contributed, or helped raise through fundraisers, hundreds of thousands of dollars for the town GOP committee headed by Frank Tantone, as well as for the town Conservative Party.

Detectives with Spota's office in May executed a search warrant at the Ronkonkoma office of Daytree at Cortland Square. The search was conducted as part of Spota's investigation of hazardous material dumping at the Brentwood park.

Daytree at Cortland Square in October 2012 won a tree-trimming contract in the Town of Islip after a competitive bidding process. That contract brought in almost $360,000 to the Datre family firm in 2013, Clara Datre told Newsday in a May interview.

The company won the tree-trimming contract three weeks before superstorm Sandy barreled onto Long Island. Islip officials chose the Datre firm as one of 24 contractors hired to clean up storm debris.

Daytree at Cortland Square billed the Town of Islip $680,000 for the cleanup work, which was work done on an emergency basis and not subject to competitive bidding, according to town officials and invoices.

Newsday reported a year ago that state labor law governing how Sandy cleanup workers should be paid was violated repeatedly in the aftermath of the storm, potentially depriving hundreds of workers of thousands of dollars in wages and benefits.

In June, Looks Great Services Inc., a Huntington tree-trimming firm, pleaded guilty in a Suffolk County court to underpaying workers in violation of prevailing-wage laws. In all, 53 workers were to share more than $260,000 in unpaid wages as part of an agreement worked out with prosecutors.

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