Six people face conspiracy, misconduct and other charges in connection with the Suffolk County district attorney's investigation into the dumping of toxic materials at several Long Island sites, including a park, a veterans' housing development and a wetlands area in the same town, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Each of the defendants pleaded not guilty in state Supreme Court in Central Park Monday to charges in a 32-count indictment handed down by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. They were all released without bail.
Spota said testing found hazardous materials like the pesticide DDT, chlordane, arsenic, cobalt, lead, zinc and petroleum byproducts at all of the dump sites, including the six-acre Deer Park wetlands, adjacent to a creek in the Great South Bay watershed, a Brentwood park, a Central Islip lot and an Islandia neighborhood for war veterans. Asbestos was found at all sites but the veterans' home.
Prosecutors allege each of the defendants knew about the dumping but did nothing to stop it in a "greed-filled" plot to line their own pockets.
The original site was Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, where tens of thousands of tons of material were trucked in for a park improvement project. Then, the vacant lot on Route 111 was discovered and was "very similar in appearance" to what was found at the park, Spota said.
At the Islandia location, the homes were sold to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The project broke ground last year and veterans moved in early this year. The group that built the homes, Long Island Builders Institute, said the three sites were linked by the same contractor.
Thomas Datre Jr., son of businessman Thomas Datre, was charged in connection with the dumping at all four sites with five counts criminal mischief in the second degreet . At his arraignment, prosecutors called him the "mastermind" of the scheme, alleging he brought material from New York City to the sites and "contaminated our country."
His lawyer, Kevin Kearon, said his client did nothing wrong intentionally. At worst, Kearon said, this was "a poorly managed project."
Datre Jr. faces up to seven years in jail and millions of dollars in fines if convicted if the top counts against him. His father, Thomas Datre, was named in the indictment in connection with the dumping at the veterans' complex. He was charged with criminal mischief in the second degree, two counts of endangering in the third degree for the reckless release of an acutely hazardous substance into the environment, one count of endangering 3rd degree for the reckless release of more than 2,000 pounds of a hazardous substance, and one charge of operating an illegal solid waste management facility. He too faces up to seven years in jail in addition to significant fines.
Kearon, who is also representing the older Datre, called the prosecutors' allegations "a vile, repugnant lie."
Former Islip Parks chief Joseph Montouri and his former secretary Brett Robinson face charges in connection with the dumping at Roberto Clemente Park, including conspiracy, two counts of official misconduct, three charges of reckless release of an acutely hazardous substance into the environment, two counts of endangering in the third degree for the reckless release of more than 2,000 pounds of a hazardous substance, endangering in the fourth degree for the reckless release of a hazardous substance, and one count of operating an illegal solid waste management facility that causes the release of more than 70 cubic yards of solid waste into the environment.
Robinson's attorney, Patrick O'Connell, said his client had no knowledge of the dumping. An attorney for Montouri couldn't immediately be reached for comment.