Attorney For Patel Says It Was Honest Mistake; Trees Said To Be Worth $1 Million

MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A homeowner is accused of cutting down hundreds of trees on his neighbor’s property to get a better view of the landscape.

Charged is 47-year-old Jay Patel, who said nothing after his case was moved from municipal to superior court on Thursday. Last March, he allegedly had 221 trees chopped down, but they were on adjoining property owned by Debbie Cantow and her husband.

“It’s shocking. What can you think when you look at property and 221 stumps are in the ground? It’s a shocking event,” she told CBS 2’s John Slattery.

While the Cantows live a couple of blocks away, they own nearly two undeveloped acres behind Patel in the exclusive Rio Vista section of the township. It’s charged that he clear-cut trees worth $1 million to have better view of the Ramapo mountains.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

“I can’t get into the state of mind of Mr. Patel, but I think reasonably we all know where our property lines are. I think it’s a stretch to say that you could go several hundred feet beyond what is your property line and not know where your property line exists,” said police chief James Batelli. “If this was something where he went three or four feet over his property line, then I could think you could reasonably agree that he may not have known exactly… But if you see the site there, it’s pretty apparent that he went a considerable distance beyond his property line.”

“He hired a worker and workers. They made the error,” said Ken Porro, Patel’s attorney.

Patel’s attorney indicated the mistake was made because, visually, it looks like part of Patel’s property. Cantow’s lawyer doesn’t buy it.

“You know you have neighbors next door. You make sure you cut down your trees,” said lawyer Arthur Chagaris.

Patel had already been issued code violations because in Mahwah you can’t chop down more than five trees a year without a permit. Now, criminal charges have been filed for theft and criminal mischief.

“It’s not criminal. It’s just negligence. We should be in the civil court looking at curing the problem, not in criminal, trying to get blood out of this man,” said Porro.

Land attorneys said there’s an old adage: before you do anything to property, you have it surveyed and staked.

Patel is a millionaire owner of many Dunkin Donuts franchises. His attorney said it was only 54 trees, and Patel has offered to replace them.

Please leave a comment below…

Comments (14)
  1. treehugger says:

    Money made from selling donuts does not buy you class, Mr. Patel. It only makes you dumb as the donuts you sell!!!

  2. Rajeen says:

    It was only 54 trees. Millions of trees are chopped down ever December and sold as xmas trees and nobody complains. Sounds like bias to me.

  3. RoyBoySays says:

    I guess he will have to sell the 7-11 to make that kind of restitution!

  4. lieutenantdan says:

    All of these people have way too much money.

  5. Michael H. says:

    Clearly his last name indicates that he must be an immigrant. Just like anybody with an Italian last name is fresh off the boat. Same goes for anybody with an Irish last name, or a German last name, etc. etc. etc.

    Don’t be an idiot.


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  7. Rajjy Cando says:

    Wonder if the workers who cut the trees down were legally hired.

  8. Mina says:

    While I do not condone the actions, I cannot understand how he can have the trees cut with no one noticing it. Surely cutting down trees causes a lot of noise (?) – I know I can hear it when people cut trees where I live.

  9. jerseyjoey says:

    Yup those rich arrogant eliteist Push starts think there castish arses are still in India. Who Cares Anyway.

  10. tom says:

    where he comes from they don.t have trees and i would make him replant the biggest trees i could find and put him in jail

  11. TreeKiller says:

    Oh yeah WCBS – the trees are “with” $1 Million.
    GET A PROOFREADER not just Spell Check

  12. TreeKiller says:

    Mr Patel knew EXACTLY what he was doing. ARROGANT POS should go to JAIL.

  13. Rocco Cannoli says:

    You know which DDs are his because he is cheap with the cream filling.

  14. Jail do not pass go says:

    Another rich guy who thinks he can do whatever he wants.If you want to do something learn how to make a good donut because dunkin donuts stink with there freezer burn quality food.

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