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Judge, citing ‘bogus’ evidence, keeps Cascino on ice

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HUDSON—Salvatore Cascino remains a resident of the Columbia County Jail after his new lawyer failed during a November 1 hearing to prove that Mr. Cascino had complied with the judge’s orders.

A convicted felon and serial scofflaw, Mr. Cascino, 76, of Larchmont in Westchester County, has spent the past 18 years racking up violations of federal, state and town laws for illegal dumping, building and excavating at a place he calls Copake Valley Farm.

Mr. Cascino and his new attorney Martin P. Bonventre of the Kindlon Law Firm in Albany, appeared in Columbia County Supreme Court Tuesday morning after Mr. Bonventre filed a motion seeking to show Acting Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Nichols that Mr. Cascino had purged his contempt and should be released from jail, where he spent the past 67 days.

Mr. Cascino previously spent 69 days in jail between February 25 and May 4 after Judge Nichols found him guilty of criminal and civil contempt and, in addition to rectifying certain unlawful actions associated with structures and dumping on his property, and paying fines and reimbursing Copake for legal fees, the judge ordered him to spend at least 60 days in the Columbia County Jail.

That ruling came in connection with two outstanding orders to show cause from early 2013 brought by the Town of Copake based on his failure to comply with numerous orders previously issued by the court.

With his court documents, Mr. Bonventre, who recently replaced New York City attorney Brian Gardner as Mr. Cascino’s counsel, submitted another ream of dump tickets/receipts that he contended showed Mr. Cascino’s compliance with a Judge Nichol’s February court order to remove from his Copake property 9,650 cubic yards of illegally dumped unrecognizable pulverized material constituting solid waste.

But in his response to the Cascino motion, attorney Victor Meyers, who represents the Town of Copake, provided the judge with photographs of the actual material Mr. Cascino deposited at the Recycle Depot facility in Poughkeepsie, which showed the loads dumped contained rocks, chunks of concrete and some dirt. The photographs were taken by proprietors of the Recycle Depot and were willingly supplied to Mr. Meyers.

Judge Nichols said the material in the photographs “was clearly not the material ordered to be removed.”

The judge credited Mr. Meyers’ response papers for “capturing everything,” pointing out that the newly submitted dump tickets or receipts were riddled with inconsistencies with different tonnage and different load totals recorded on the top and bottom of the tickets.

The judge asked Mr. Bonventre for his reply to Mr. Meyers’ arguments and documentation.

I do not have a good reply,” said Mr. Bonventre, who went on to say he had not received the Meyers response until late the day before and had not had time to gather needed information.

Judge Nichols said the hearing had not been scheduled so Mr. Bonventre could “come here and tell me you have deficiencies.” The judge said it was up to Mr. Bonventre to get the files from prior counsel. “It’s your application,” said Judge Nichols, “why haven’t you taken the time to gather materials in preparation for this hearing?”

Mr. Bonventre said he had been “relying on information from people he should not be relying on” and gathering transcripts from prior proceedings in an effort to become aware of what the court is looking for.

The court is looking for compliance,” the judge said sternly and noted that Mr. Cascino is incarcerated because prior evidence presented in an attempt to get him released was “insufficient, invalid and bogus.”

The judge went on to report that his random selection of receipts from among the 100 or more provided revealed “inherent inconsistencies” which he read aloud.

Judge Nichols denied Mr. Bonventre’s order to show cause, declared that Mr. Cascino’s contempt had not been purged and ordered Mr. Cascino back to jail.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com

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