A Brentwood-based garbage carter and two of its employees have been charged with attempting to defraud the Town of Smithtown and its taxpayers of nearly $1 million after an investigation conducted by Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
V. Garofalo Carting, its principal owner Mario Garofalo and employee Robert Garofalo pled not guilty to allegations of enterprise corruption, money laundering and grand larceny among other charges in Suffolk County Supreme Court Nov. 15 before Judge Richard Ambro.
“This is a serious case of wrongdoing that defrauds the Town of Smithtown,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said. “Our message is we will hold these type of bad actors accountable.”
“This is a serious case of wrongdoing that defrauds the Town of Smithtown.”
— Tim Sini
Sini said the investigation was born out of a complaint filed with the county by the Town of Smithtown in 2014. It had laid stagnant, untouched, until he conducted a file review at the start of his term.
Between January 2015 and February 2016, prosecutors said the garbage carter and its employees allegedly hatched what they said was referred to as the Tulsa Plan, according to court documents. The garbage carter and its employees allegedly collected commercial garbage from businesses, both those unregistered with the Town of Smithtown, and others across Nassau and Suffolk County, to dispose of at the Covanta Huntington waste facility in East Northport on at least 19 different dates in exchange for a fee. Upon arriving at the facility, Garofalo employees then allegedly provided documentation falsely stating the commercial garbage had been collected in Smithtown, causing the town to be billed for its disposal, according to court records.
“Once we receive a copy of the indictment, our attorneys will review it to see if there’s any damages incurred by the town,” Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said Nov. 16. “Then we will take the appropriate measures.”
The town attorney’s office has since received a copy of the indictment against V. Garofalo Carting and the two men but was still reviewing it as of press time Nov. 20.
In addition, the district attorney’s investigation also alleged Mario Garofalo has used the Brentwood property of V. Garofalo Carting off Crooked Hill Road as a transfer station, storing commercial trash there, despite lacking the required permits to do so.
“At the end of the day, I firmly believe Mario, who has spent his life taking care of community, will gain his good reputation back at trial.”
— Ray Perini
Ray Perini, a Huntington-based attorney representing Mario Garofalo, said he does not believe the allegations put forth by the district attorney’s office can be substantiated.
“At the end of the day, I firmly believe Mario, who has spent his life taking care of community, will gain his good reputation back at trial,” Perini said.
V. Garofalo Carting currently has a contract with the town to pick up and dispose of residential waste for approximately 17,000 homes, according to Wehrheim. Smithtown’s elected officials held a series of emergency meetings Nov. 16 to discuss possible measures to take, if needed, to ensure regular trash collection continues.
“We are preparing in the event that they discontinue service how we will continue serving those homes,” Wehrheim said. “We hope it doesn’t happen. If it does, we will have a plan B.”
Mario Garofalo’s attorney assured that should not be a concern, given the company’s good reputation having been in business for more than 57 years on Long Island, he said.
“This company will live up to contracts and continue to pick up residential trash,” Perini said.
Previously, a recyclables contractor for the Town of Smithtown, Jody Enterprises, was indicted for allegedly running a paper and cardboard scheme back in August 2012. The town, at that time under the leadership of former Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R), chose to settle the allegations out of court with an agreement the company would pay back restitution.