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Cascino faces felony charges

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State alleges false records. Ancram seen as new dump site

ALBANY–Salvatore Cascino and Bronx County Recycling, LLC, now face a second indictment filed by the state Attorney General–this one on three felony counts for filing false documents with the state to hide illegal disposal of solid waste.

In another matter involving Mr. Cascino, The Columbia Paper has learned that he allegedly dumped debris at an Ancram gravel mine not authorized to accept off-site materials.

And in yet another piece of bad news for Mr. Cascino, on Wednesday afternoon, June 16, Judge Jonathan Nichols dismissed a civil action Mr. Cascino had filed against the Copake Planning Board, which denied him permission to expand his operations in that town (see related story).

The Attorney General’s June 14 indictment, the second one since April, alleges that Mr. Cascino failed to list on three annual filings–2008, 2009, 2010–with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that unauthorized solid waste was received at Bronx County Recycling.

Mr. Cascino, 70, a resident of Larchmont, owns the indicted Bronx-based waste-hauling business along with a 300-acre property in Copake, called Copake Valley Farm. For the past 13 years, he has violated federal, state and town law by dumping without a permit and conducting other illegal activities at his Copake property.

He was arraigned on three counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing before Acting Supreme Court Justice Daniel Lamont in state Supreme Court in Albany County and was released on own recognizance pending a July 1 court date. Each count is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

With regard to the Ancram dumpsite, Double D Development, the owners of the Bryant gravel mine on Route 82 in Ancram, allegedly allowed Mr. Cascino to haul in nine tractor trailer loads, 20 to 25 yards per load, of materials from his Bronx County Recycling facility in violation of condition #26 of their “mined land reclamation permit” issued by the DEC.

The permit condition specifies, “There shall be no importation of material originating from outside the limits of the life of mine.”

During a May 27 inspection of the mine DEC Inspector Simone Rodriguez and DEC Investigator Jesse Paluch found nine loads of off-site materials dumped there. Four loads were unrecognizable pulverized construction and demolition (c+d) debris, and five loads were made up of bricks, concrete blocks, some metal and wood. Inv. Paluch said he took samples of the materials for testing.

The DEC inspection report said that, “Permittees were informed that this material cannot be brought into the mine without prior approval and modification of the mining permit.” It further states that the finely crushed or pulverized material is not acceptable for reclamation and that the violation will result in enforcement actions.

Inv. Paluch told The Columbia Paper that Daniel Amicucci, one of the mine owners that he and Inspector Rodriguez spoke to, wanted to reclaim a portion of the 60-acre mine. Mining had ceased at the site and the owners were looking to use the property in some other way.

Inv. Paluch said the owners had worked out a deal with Mr. Cascino to haul in the free fill they thought they could use to reclaim the land, and Mr. Cascino would purchase and haul out loads of sand, which he wanted to take back to the Bronx.

“They thought it was a win-win situation,” said the investigator, noting there had apparently been some misunderstanding about the permit conditions. The material brought in by Mr. Cascino will ultimately have to be removed, he said.

Investigation of the case is ongoing, and whether Mr. Cascino will face charges in connection with dumping at the Bryant Mine depends on the results of the test samples taken, said Inv. Paluch.

Mr. Amicucci did not return a call for comment.

In the investigation leading up to the latest charges brought against Mr. Cascino, filing false documents,  Inv. Paluch said he knew from inspections of Mr. Cascino’s Bronx facility that though he is only authorized to accept and recycle clean c+d materials such as brick, concrete, rocks, asphalt and dirt, the materials received there are “never 100% clean.”

He said the materials come from a variety of contractors who perform demolition work of one kind or another, and the mix contains prohibited materials, like adulterated wood, wire, plastic, rubber, used tile with the glue still on it, metal piping, metal “rebar,” sheetrock, roof shingles and plumbing.

While the material is supposed to be thoroughly inspected by facility employees and all the unacceptable materials removed, put aside and hauled away, Inv. Paluch said he saw “no quality control” except for some “sifting through the raw piles.”

Because his facility is licensed by the state, Mr. Cascino has to make annual reports to the DEC about the materials received, listing the weight or volume, where it came from and its disposal destination.

When Inv. Paluch and the lieutenant in charge of the DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations (BECI), Charles Honikel, reviewed the Bronx County Recycling records for the three years listed in the indictment, they found discrepancies–no records of any waste other than clean c+d and the absence of many of the origination/destination locations, said the investigator.

“We’re doing what we can, keeping a watchful eye on Mr. Cascino,” said Inv. Paluch, adding, “the last thing we want is for more asbestos to show up. If I can’t prevent him from dumping the least I can do is get the stuff tested before we run into bigger issues.”

In the press release about the latest indictment, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said, “This recycler dumped dangerous construction debris and then routinely filed false reports with the state to hide his crime. My office is committed to the protection of New York’s citizens and the conservation of the environment.”

This indictment follows a previous indictment in Columbia County April 12, alleging that between December 2008 and July 2009, Mr. Cascino and Bronx County Recycling recklessly operated an unpermitted landfill on State Route 9G in the Town of Clermont, where more than 70 cubic yards of solid waste was disposed of illegally. The Attorney General also filed a motion to force compliance with a consent decree prohibiting Mr. Cascino and his companies from accepting any solid waste at Copake Valley Farm.

A 2009 search at Mr. Cascino’s Copake property revealed that more solid waste had been dumped there since the effective date of the consent decree. Recent results of sampling of the solid waste revealed that it contained low levels of friable asbestos, which is regulated by DEC as a hazardous air pollutant.

The motion is pending and seeks an order requiring Mr. Cascino and the other defendants to promptly clean up the waste under DEC supervision.

“Once again, Mr. Cascino is facing charges for allegedly flouting environmental laws and putting public health and safety at risk. This is simply unacceptable. Our agency is committed to working with the Attorney General to prosecute such cases to the fullest extent in order to prevent improper dumping and ensure a safe environment,” State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said in the release.

Bronx County Recycling, LLC, is a registered construction and debris processing facility at 475 Exterior Avenue in the Bronx. A registered construction and debris processing facility is permitted to accept only uncontaminated, rock, asphalt, dirt and concrete and reprocess it for limited designated and permitted uses.

Attorney General Cuomo thanked the DEC for its assistance in the investigation. The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General James Woods and Assistant Attorney General Catherine Leahy Scott under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Deputy Chief Richard

Ernst and Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly with assistance by Michael Myers from the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau.

In a press release about the latest charges against Mr. Cascino, Assemblyman Marc Molinaro (R-103rd) said, the “indictment of Salvatore Cascino and Bronx County Recycling appears to be one more addition to a laundry list of Mr. Cascino’s abuse of Columbia County’s environment. I worked with Senator Saland and Copake officials to bring this issue to the proper authorities and I commend the Attorney General for his actions. Filing false documents, operating an unpermitted landfill, and violating a consent decree are serious issues. Our environmental laws and local land use policies are too valuable for our communities to be willfully disregarded by environmental abusers.”

When reached by phone June 15, Mr. Cascino’s attorney Dennis Schlenker declined to comment on the case.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@ColumbiaPaper.com. 

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