Bearing warrant, DEC begins digging on waste hauler’s land
COPAKE–A heap of digging was going on at Salvatore Cascino’s property beginning early Wednesday morning, and this time it wasn’t Mr. Cascino who was doing it.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is looking for something on Mr. Cascino’s property, immediately west of the old rail bed and farm road off Lackawanna Road, but state officials won’t say what. DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson would say only that the DEC is conducting a joint investigation with the state Attorney General’s Office and is executing a search warrant on the Cascino property.
A turquoise excavator could be seen busily hoisting metal buckets full of earth and depositing the soil on the ground, while two or three officials looked on.
A dark-colored SUV, a marked state Department of Environmental Conservation Officer’s patrol vehicle with EnCon Officer Jeffrey Cox behind the wheel guarded the entrance to the farm road.
Officer Cox referred a reporter to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s press office.
When the AG’s office called back Wednesday afternoon, spokesman David Doyle would only say, “no comment.”
Mr. Cascino, a resident of Larchmont, owns a Bronx-based waste-hauling business. For the past dozen years he has been amassing violations of federal, state and town law on his 300-acre property, called Copake Valley Farm. Town residents and officials have said, some of them under oath, that they have seen trucks dumping construction and demolition debris. Mr. Cascino does not have a permit to dispose of that kind of material in Copake.
In June of this year, acting State Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Nichols found Mr. Cascino guilty of both civil and criminal contempt for violating a 2006 temporary restraining order that prohibited Mr. Cascino from all building, dumping and excavating on the property. Judge Nichols ordered Mr. Cascino to remove a stone wall and all the materials–hundreds of thousands of yards of it–he had dumped on his property in violation of the restraining order. The judge also ordered Mr. Cascino to cease all construction work on a building he calls his farm stand and pay the Town of Copake costs and attorneys fees expended in the course of prosecuting the contempt case–around $22,000.
Attorney Victor Meyers, who is handling the case for the town, said Wednesday that Mr. Cascino has been granted a temporary stay of the judge’s enforcement order and does not have to remove the stone wall. But the town could move to vacate the stay, and Mr. Cascino has to continue to pursue his appeal of his convictions.
The DEC, through the AG’s Office, has several lawsuits pending against Mr. Cascino for dumping materials in significant areas of state and federal wetlands and the Noster Kill, a protected trout stream that runs through the Cascino property.
The town also awaits the judge’s decision on its main lawsuit, which charges that Mr. Cascino engaged in illegal dumping and building projects in violation of Town Code.
A call to Mr. Cascino’s attorney, Dennis B. Schlenker, seeking comment on the situation was not returned.
To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@ColumbiaPaper.com.