The St. James man accused of illegally dumping tens of thousands of tons of contaminated construction debris in Suffolk County pleaded guilty to felony charges of endangering the environment this week, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said.
Thomas Datre Jr., 42, has been on trial since Feb. 23 for the alleged incident, which dated back to 2013 and 2014. He stood on trial with his father Thomas Datre Sr. and four family-operated companies charged with dumping thousands of tons of contaminated construction debris at four locations in western Suffolk County, and pleaded guilty March 30 to four felony charges of endangering the public health, safety or the environment in the third degree. He will be sentenced to up to three years in an upstate prison and must also cleanup the damaged land, Spota said.
According to the terms of the plea, Datre Jr. is responsible for the restoration of Roberto Clemente Town Park in Brentwood to an active playground, soccer field and recreational facility for Brentwood residents, the district attorney said. Datre Jr. is also financially and otherwise responsible for the cleanup and remediation of the environmentally fragile wetlands area on the Islip-Babylon town border in Deer Park and a lot at the corner of Sage Street and Islip Avenue in Central Islip, Spota said.
Datre Jr.’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
Dangerous toxins, including dieldrin, asbestos and other contaminants classified as “acutely hazardous” or “hazardous” were detected in the dumped debris. Spota said the dumping investigation, which began in April of 2014, uncovered a scheme “based in greed that left Suffolk County with an environmental catastrophe.”
“Before the defendant is sentenced, he will clean up at his expense the properties he dumped debris on,” Spota said. “Mr. Datre will report on his progress with the cleanup to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the court and the district attorney’s office.”
Datre Jr. also pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor charges of operating a solid waste management facility without a permit. The sentences on those convictions will be served concurrently, the DA said.
The charges in the indictment against Datre Sr. were dismissed in satisfaction of the plea of Datre Jr. In addition to Datre Jr.’s guilty plea the family-run business, 5 Brothers Farming Corp., pleaded guilty to four counts of endangering the environment in the third degree, one felony plea per each of four sites where New York City building rubble was dumped in Suffolk.
Datre Jr.’s co-defendant, Christopher Grabe of Islandia Recycling, also pleaded guilty to two felony charges of endangering the environment and two misdemeanor charges of operating a solid waste management facility without a permit.
Spota said Grabe, for his role in the dumping of debris at Clemente Town Park in Brentwood and at the Route 111 site in Central Islip will be sentenced to up to six months in jail and five years’ probation.
Grabe also pleaded guilty to a tax fraud felony filed by the district attorney’s Tax Crimes Unit in March of last year. Grabe, 38, “from 2011 through 2013 failed to report about $885,000 of income to New York State, resulting in evasion of approximately $57,000 in income taxes, “ Spota said.
That defendant is now required to pay the unpaid taxes.
In a separate investigation and indictment, Datre Sr. and Clara Datre, representing Daytree at Cortland Square Inc. before Justice Fernando Camacho, acknowledged the firm’s failure to pay prevailing wages to its workers performing tree and stump removal for the Town of Islip. For the plea to the misdemeanor charge failure to pay the prevailing wage, 13 workers employed by Daytree at Cortland Square Inc. will be paid by the company approximately $90,000 in wages that they did not receive while working on the town contract.