Longtime Copake scofflaw is late on payments to town
COPAKE–Salvatore Cascino has missed the last two installment payments on the money he owes Copake for attorneys fees. And in accordance with his 15-year history as a town scofflaw, Mr. Cascino has also indicated he does not have to abide by the town’s outdoor lighting regulations.
Mr. Cascino, 73, a Larchmont resident, owns 300-acres called Copake Valley Farm along the east side of Route 22 across from the southern entrance to the Copake hamlet, where he has violated federal, state and town laws by illegally dumping. He also owns a Bronx waste-hauling business called Bronx County Recycling.
At the Town Board’s January meeting, Supervisor Jeff Nayer announced that Mr. Cascino had failed to pay the last two payments on a 2011 installment agreement. The payment agreement was reached in connection with a May 2010 ruling by Acting State Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Nichols that Mr. Cascino had to pay attorney fees the town incurred taking him to court.
According to Attorney Victor Meyers, who handles the town’s Cascino-related legal matters, Mr. Cascino agreed to pay a total $24,834, including interest in four payments of $6,208. He paid the first two payments for a total of $12,416, but missed the September 15 and December 15, 2011 payments.
At the January Town Board meeting, resident Lindsay LeBrecht noted that since the town is spending money to recover money, additional attorney fees should also be part of the money sought from Mr. Cascino.
Supervisor Nayer said that while he doesn’t like to have to spend money to collect money, in light of the town’s long-term investment in bringing Mr. Cascino to justice, “I can’t just say, OK, forget about it.”
The Town Board received a letter from Mr. Meyers saying that Mr. Cascino has retained new attorneys, the firm of Sullivan Gardner PC in New York City. The new firm filed a motion for more time to prepare Mr. Cascino’s appeal of another of Judge Nichols’ decisions in Copake’s favor. The decision permanently prohibits Mr. Cascino from using the property in violation of town zoning law and directs that such violations be terminated. It bars Mr. Cascino from dumping, operating any commercial or industrial enterprise, engaging in construction or excavation without permits and using the garage for maintaining or storing equipment used in his waste-hauling and recycling business. It also requires him to undo a long list of all his violations.
Mr. Cascino has switched attorneys because his former attorney, Dennis Schlenker is suing him for his attorney fees, Mr. Meyers told The Columbia Paper.
Mr. Cascino “changes lawyers like most people change their clothes,” said Mr. Nayer, noting that the town has a lien on the Cascino property so he cannot sell it unless he pays the money he owes the town.
Mr. Cascino is also still on the hook for $15,000 due the town for fees it paid to consultants during the Planning Board’s consideration of Mr. Cascino’s plan to construct several massive buildings. The proposal was unanimously rejected by the Planning Board in 2008. Mr. Cascino sued unsuccessfully to overturn the Planning Board’s decision.
In other Cascino news, Copake Zoning Enforcement Officer Edward Ferratto served Mr. Cascino with an official order to remedy the row of a dozen or so flood lights mounted on electric poles that border his property along Route 22.
Last September Roberta Roll, a resident of Weed Mine Road, complained about the lights, which “light up the whole sky, it looks like a city,” Ms. Roll told The Columbia Paper Wednesday. She said the lights illuminate her bedroom about a quarter mile away and that two of the lights shine in the eyes of drivers headed north on Route 22.
The lights are in violation of the town’s lighting regulations for areas within the Scenic Corridor Overlay Zone, which say, “Floodlights shall not be used to light any portion of a principal or accessory structure facade and all outdoor light sources mounted on poles, buildings or trees to illuminate driveways, sidewalks, walkways, parking lots or other outdoor areas shall use fully shielded light fixtures.” The light source is not supposed to be visible beyond the boundaries of the property.
Mr. Ferratto said a letter he received from Mr. Cascino says Mr. Cascino will dispute any further legal action taken on the lighting because he believes he is exempt under state law governing farms. But Mr. Ferratto said he spoke to an official at the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, who told him farmers should comply with local zoning laws and that Mr. Cascino would have to prove that the lights are necessary for the safety and care of farm animals.
Mr. Ferratto told the Town Board it was his opinion that the town should proceed to enforce the lighting violation with an appearance ticket.
As for the three felony counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing charges for which Mr. Cascino was indicted by the state Attorney General in June 2010–that case is on hold. Mr. Cascino has filed a lawsuit challenging the criminal indictment, which alleges that for three years he failed to report to the state Department of Environmental Conservation that unauthorized solid waste was received at Bronx County Recycling. Mr. Cascino contends that the indictment constitutes double jeopardy. The felony case cannot go forward until the appellate division rules.
In the meantime Mr. Cascino continues to construct a new house on a parcel separate from the farm on Lackawanna Road. The two-story house with a stone siding appears nearly complete on the outside, with interior work ongoing. The house has 3,104 square feet of habitable space, 2,641 square feet of non-habitable space, such as basement, garage, closets and stairways, according to the building permit.
A call for comment on these issues was placed to Brian Gardner at the new law firm representing Mr. Cascino, but was not returned before press time Wednesday.