HUDSON—During an appearance in Columbia County Supreme Court the morning of February 25, Acting Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Nichols ordered Salvatore Cascino to spend some time behind bars.
Mr. Cascino, 76, of Larchmont, a Village in the Town of Mamaroneck, Westchester County, owns a 300-acre property along the east side of Route 22 in Copake. He calls the place Copake Valley Farm and for nearly two decades, Mr. Cascino has been racking up violations of federal, state and town laws for illegal dumping, building and excavating there.
The attorney representing the Town of Copake in ongoing lawsuits against Mr. Cascino, Victor Meyers, told The Columbia Paper he was called to come to court Thursday morning.
Mr. Meyers said that Mr. Cascino’s attorney, Brian Gardner, had earlier made application to Judge Nichols asking to be relieved as Mr. Cascino’s attorney. The judge had asked Mr. Gardner to “show cause” why he should grant the application.
Mr. Meyers said he knew the hearing was happening but was not aware that he needed to be there.
In court, Mr. Gardner told the judge he and his client, Mr. Cascino, had patched up their differences and that he wanted to continue as Mr. Cascino’s attorney.
After Mr. Gardner’s revelation, Judge Nichols announced that he had a Decision and Order all the parties would be interested in: his ruling on the two outstanding Orders to Show Cause dated January 30 and May 29, 2013 brought by the Town of Copake asking that Mr. Cascino be found in contempt of court for his failure to comply with numerous orders previously issued by the judge in connection with Mr. Cascino’s illegal activities in Copake.
The 29-page ruling is a mixed bag of findings, favorable and not favorable to Copake, on multiple matters the Town of Copake set out to prove during court hearings back in July, August and December 2013.
The bottom line is Judge Nichols found Mr. Cascino guilty of both criminal and civil contempt and ordered him to spend at least 60 days in the Columbia County Jail, to rectify certain wrongs associated with structures and dumping on his property, to pay fines in the amount of $500 and reimburse Copake for legal fees expended in bringing suit against him.
Judge Nichols ordered Sheriff’s deputies to handcuff Mr. Cascino in the courtroom and haul him off to jail—right then and there.
Mr. Gardner sought to stave off the order by pleading for time for Mr. Cascino to get his affairs in order and fetch his medications. But the judge would not hear of it.
Mr. Meyers said Mr. Gardner may pursue a stay of the sentence pending appeal based on Mr. Cascino’s health, but will have to go to an appellate court to make his case.
Mr. Cascino’s expression was “emotionless” throughout the procedure, said Mr. Meyer.
A more detailed report on the decision will appear in the next issue of The Columbia Paper.
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