For him, rules are things to break

Sal Cascino’s violations mount, with little done to deter him

COPAKE—Digging, dumping, building, ignoring the law, going to court… it’s been business as usual this year for Salvatore Cascino.

Passersby on Route 22, just south of the Copake hamlet, can get a daily update on the continuing illegal activity at the 300-acre property owned by Mr. Cascino, 74, a convicted scofflaw who has a 16-year history of violations of federal, state and town laws for illegal dumping and failure to get permits for building and excavating.Mr. Cascino was found guilty of both civil and criminal contempt in 2009. He also pleaded guilty to one count of felony second degree offering a false instrument on behalf of his corporations as part of a plea deal in Albany County Supreme Court in June 2012.

In fact, Mr. Cascino has so many illegal irons in the fire it’s a challenge to keep track of where things stand on all of them in the ongoing judicial crawl.

Most recently, Copake Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) Edward Ferratto visited Mr. Cascino’s Copake Valley Farm a little more than a month ago in response to a complaint of illegal dumping by Copake resident Deborah Cohen.

Mr. Ferratto told The Columbia Paper in October that he saw and documented that tractor trailer loads of an unknown dark, soil-like or mulch material “mixed with plastic bags and bottles and miscellaneous other items” had been dumped on the property off Lackawanna Road. The ZEO also said the illegally built, flat-roofed, concrete block buildings, now sided in red-painted boards, have been expanded in recent months—without permits.

Victor Meyers, Copake’s attorney on Cascino-related matters, filed additional contempt of court motions in connection with those buildings late last year, but hearing dates have not been set by the court.

At the Town Board’s request, Mr. Meyers also sent a letter dated October 3, to Acting Supreme Court Justice Jonathan D. Nichols asking that “the court set a date for a hearing on the Order to Show Cause to punish” Mr. Cascino in connection with the contempt of court suit in which all legal submissions were returnable by February 5 of this year.

A call to the judge’s chambers this week to find out when a contempt ruling might be forthcoming was not returned.

Presentation of proof in that hearing on two orders to show cause why Mr. Cascino should not be held in contempt of court wrapped up December 11, 2013 after five days of proceedings. The Town of Copake presented evidence of Mr. Cascino’s continued failure to comply with court orders in an earlier contempt case, in which the judge directed Mr. Cascino to remove a steel bridge, a stone wall and the illegal fill he dumped in and along the Noster Kill, a protected trout stream. Mr. Cascino was also required to restore the farm stand to its 2006 condition because he had failed to get a building permit for work done there.

Testimony was also heard from truck drivers employed by Mr. Cascino about the hundreds of loads of “fill” they hauled from Bronx County Recycling, now called New York Recycling, over many months in 2013 and dumped on the Cascino property at the direction of Mr. Cascino.

Department of Environmental Conservation Investigator Jesse Paluch took the stand December 11 to tell the court that he witnessed the dumping May 14. He saw and documented that the material was finely pulverized construction and demolition (c+d) debris and subsequent tests concluded that it was “unrecognizable and contaminated.”

Because the material constituted solid waste under DEC regulations, Mr. Cascino not only violated a settlement agreement with DEC, but also broke another Environmental Conservation Law—the unlawful disposal of solid waste.

So, Mr. Cascino is also in the midst of court action brought by the State Office of the Attorney General related to violation of a 2012 state DEC consent order and continued dumping on his 300-acre Copake property.

The 14-page summons and verified complaint filed in State Supreme Court, Columbia County, March 27, says this is the third time in seven years that the state has taken civil enforcement action against Mr. Cascino and his companies, Copake Valley Farm, LLC, and 13 Lackawanna Properties, LLC, for “unlawfully disposing of waste material brought up from a Bronx facility to the Copake property.”

The judgment sought against Mr. Cascino in the latest DEC suit is for the court to issue an injunction preventing Mr. Cascino from dumping any more forbidden material at the Copake site and that he be required to remove all such materials from the site and dispose of it at an authorized facility.

It also asks the court to make Mr. Cascino pay civil penalties to the state of up to $7,500 for each violation of the 2012 consent order and an additional $1,500 for each day the violations continue.

Nicholas Benson, deputy press secretary for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, told The Columbia Paper this week that the AG’s Office was last in Columbia County Supreme Court before Judge Nichols on the matter July 16 for an initial case management conference determining deadlines for discovery, dispositive motions and trial. The next court appearance has not yet been scheduled.

Mr. Cascino also appeared in Dutchess County Supreme Court November 10 with regard to a lawsuit he has brought against the Town of Dover, where he “destroyed a substantial section of wetlands” by dumping truckloads of solid waste in them, according to the DEC complaint.

Mr. Cascino also has violations of both state Highway Law and Vehicle and Traffic Law hanging over his head for not getting a permit to work in the state highway right-of-way and for the illegal work he performed in the right-of-way on State Route 22.
A call to Mr. Cascino’s attorney Brian Gardner for comment on these matters was not returned.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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