CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s the final chapter in a troubling case of illegal dumping — a case prosecutors say caused an environmental catastrophe in Suffolk County.
On Thursday, a judge called for the end of ‘business as usual’ and sentenced two men — a hauler and his employee — to jail.
Toxins including pesticides, PCBs, and other chemicals that have been banned for a long time were dumped, and Thomas Datre Jr admitted to doing it, but claimed it was unintentional.
“To anybody who was impacted, I was not out to hurt nobody,” he said.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, prosecutors said the crime was fueled by pure greed.
“He knew that there were rules and regulations in place and where this stuff is supposed to be disposed. He knows there are high costs associated with that, but when you find holes in Suffolk County and you don’t care where it is, it’s pure profit in your pockets,” Assistant Suffolk County D.A. Michelle Pitman said.
Prosecutors said four properties were riddled with thousands of tons of hazardous rubble, the court-ordered cleanup moving at a snail’s pace.
Darte Jr’s attorney said he recklessly cut corners, but had no bad intentions.
“We don’t believe anybody has been hurt, or anyone has been harmed,” attorney Kevin Kearon said.
Taxpayers spent nearly $4-million for cleanup. Wetlands were dumped on, and an affordable housing development for war veterans was contaminated.
One Marine said his dream home was turned into a nightmare.
“Who knows if I am going to develop some form of disease in the future, having that in my mind every day,” Eric Petrie said.
Judge Fernando Camacho sentenced Datre Jr to a year in jail.
“You cannot line your pockets by dumping your filth and poison into our communities,” he said.
Charges against Datre’s father, Thomas Sr. were dismissed. He said the case was devastating.
“Destroyed my name, destroyed my business, destroyed my family,” he said.
Also destroyed were three years of park-going in Brentwood, a community struggling with gang violence.
“A park sits padlocked when they need it more than anything. They can’t have it,” Camacho said, “Because of you.”
Datre Jr’s company was also ordered to pay $600,000 in fines. Parts of Roberto Clemente Park may finally be re-opened this summer.