GNH Lumber February 2024

Cascino ignites new charges

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Smoke rose last weekend from a fire at the property of Sal Cascino in Copake, where officials said he was illegally burning waste materials. Photo by Bob SacksWaste hauler from Bronx cited for burning debris days after acquittal

COPAKE–Easy come, easy go.

Last week in state Supreme Court at the Columbia County Courthouse, Salvatore Cascino, 71, of Larchmont, had one misdemeanor charge against him dismissed and a jury found him not guilty of a second misdemeanor count. He had been charged under state Environmental Conservation Law for illegal dumping in Clermont.

Three days later, Saturday, December 18, at his 300-acre property here called Copake Valley Farm, Mr. Cascino was handed a ticket for yet another misdemeanor–this time for violating the law prohibiting open burning.

 

For the past 13 years, Mr. Cascino has been accumulating violations of federal, state and town law, many related to illegal dumping and building at his property along the east side of Route 22, at the south end of Copake. Mr. Cascino owns Bronx County Recycling, LLC, a waste hauling/processing operation, just south of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

According to state Department of Environmental Conservation Officer Peter Brinkerhoff, the fire at the Cascino property was first noticed sometime Saturday morning and an officer from the Copake Police Department went there and directed the workers to extinguish it.

The burning waned for a short while, but started up again, and Officer Brinkerhoff was called to 13 Lackawanna Road shortly after lunch.

The officer told The Columbia Paper that he saw multiple piles of “ground up pallets” burning. Additionally, he said, the material was piled and burning in a 100-foot-long section of a 300-foot-long, 5- to 6-foot deep drainage trench. Workers were using a Bobcat loader to put the material in a dump tractor trailer, but at the same time were pushing some of it into the trench and into piles and burning it, said Officer Brinkerhoff. He called the Copake Fire Department in to extinguish the blazes.

Copake firefighters were called to the scene at 2:08 p.m. to put out “an illegal controlled burn,” said Copake Fire Chief Randi Shadic, who noted that in addition to the material burning in the trench, there were two 10-foot-wide by 10-foot-high piles of construction and demolition (c+d) debris on fire near a much larger pile of the same material. He said the material consisted of “framing lumber” mixed in with brick and concrete. The fire was doused with water and the chief noted that State Police along with Copake Police were on the scene in addition to the DEC officer.

Firefighters were clear from the scene at 3:27 p.m., according to Columbia County 911.

While speaking with the workers involved, Officer Brinkerhoff said he was told that Mr. Cascino was on the property at the time of the burning. The officer found Mr. Cascino in the brick garage building on Lackawanna Road and handed him the ticket for “open burning prohibited” in person. Mr. Cascino accepted the ticket, which directs him to appear in Copake Court to answer the charge January 24. The misdemeanor carries a possible fine of $375 to $15,000 and/or up to a year in jail.

But the story doesn’t end there.

On Monday, December 20, a truck driver who works for Mr. Cascino and was driving a truck owned by Mr. Cascino, was ticketed for hauling a load of c+d from Mr. Cascino’s Copake property to his property in Dover Plains, Dutchess County.

The DEC’s Region 3 press office provided The Columbia Paper with a list of 10 offenses for which the driver and Mr. Cascino’s business entities were cited by DEC Officer Deo Read III.

Truck driver Steven P. Grafals was charged with transporting an uncovered load of solid waste, a violation that carries a fine that can range between $1,500 and $15,000 if the person or company is guilty. He was also charged with the release of 30 cubic yards of solid waste into the environment, a misdemeanor for which the penalty is a fine ranging from $3,750 to $22,500 upon conviction.

Taconic Meadows, LLC, and Bronx County Recycling, LLC, Mr. Cascino’s business entities, were each cited for release of 30 cubic yards of solid waste into the environment, a misdemeanor; operating a solid waste facility without a permit, a violation ($1,500 to $15,000 fine); disturbing a protected stream without a permit, a misdemeanor (possible fine of up to $10,000); and altering a fresh water wetland without a permit, a violation (potential fine of $500 to $1,000).

All the tickets are returnable in Dover Court January 24.

A call for comment to Mr. Cascino at Bronx County Recycling was not returned by press deadline.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com

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