Prosecutors on Long Island say they've reached a plea deal with the suspects in a series of toxic dumpings at several sites in Suffolk County.
The six people were in the midst of a criminal trial in connection with dumping of toxic materials at a park, a veterans' housing development and a wetlands area in the same town. The trial was in its sixth week in Central Islip.
Defendant Tom Datre Jr., 42, has pleaded guilty to four felony counts of endangering the environment for dumping at a Brentwood park, the Islandia veterans housing project and two other sites. In exchange, he will be sentenced to one to three years in prison. He had been facing up to seven years in jail and millions of dollars in fines if he were convicted of the top counts.
He'll also be held responsible for the cost of cleanup at the sites.
A partner of Datre, Christopher Grabe of Islandia Recycling, has also pleaded guilty to criminal counts for his role in dumping debris at Clemente Town Park in Brentwood and at the Route 111 site in Central Islip, and will face six months in jail.
Criminal charges against Datre's father, Tom Datre Sr., have been dropped.
But Datre Jr.'s family-run business, the 5 Brothers Farming Corp., has pleaded guilty to four felony dumping charges and will face fines. Datre Jr. and his father own four family-operated companies.
At Datre Jr.'s arraignment in December 2014, prosecutors called him the "mastermind" of the scheme, alleging he brought material from New York City to the sites and "contaminated our county."
His lawyer, Kevin Kearon, said at the time his client did nothing wrong intentionally. At worst, Kearon said, this was "a poorly managed project."
Prosecutors had alleged each of the defendants knew about the dumping but did nothing to stop it in a "greed-filled" plot to line their own pockets.
Prosecutors 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.
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.