HUDSON—A last ditch attempt to get Salvatore Cascino out of jail in time for the holidays didn’t pan out.
Mr. Cascino, his attorney, the Town of Copake and its attorney appeared before Judge Jonathan Nichols in Columbia County Supreme Court December 14 in connection with ongoing contempt proceedings against Mr. Cascino of Larchmont in Westchester County.
Mr. Cascino, who turned 78 in jail this month, is a convicted felon who has spent the past 19 years amassing violations of federal, state and town laws for illegal dumping, building and excavating at a place he calls Copake Valley Farm along the east side of Route 22.
Greg Lubow, representing Mr. Cascino, had asked the judge for a chance to demonstrate that Mr. Cascino had finally purged his contempt.
Mr. Cascino has been locked up in the Columbia County Jail for 551 days since February 25, 2016, the last 482 of those days have been consecutive. The judge put Mr. Cascino behind bars because he has failed to remove 9,650 cubic yards of illegally dumped solid waste from his property as ordered by the court in February 2016.
Since then, a variety of attorneys for Mr. Cascino have tried, without success, to prove that their client has complied with the court’s order.
This will be the second Christmas he has spent in the county jail.
Last Thursday, Mr. Lubow called Fred Schneeberger of Ancramdale to the stand. Mr. Schneeberger, who is in the excavation and trucking business, said he has known Mr. Cascino for 15 to 20 years. He told the court he was hired in the spring of 2013 to level off some piles of dirt dumped on the Cascino property and to re-grade the land around the big poplar tree. He marked the area where he was working on a map.
Mr. Schneeberger said he was there when state Department of Environmental Conservation Investigator Jesse Paluch was interacting with the truck drivers and inspecting the material that was being dumped.
On cross examination, Victor Meyers, attorney for the town, questioned Mr. Schneebeerger about other more recent dates when material was spread around at the Cascino property.
But Mr. Lubow objected, saying the questions were not relevant. Mr. Schneeberger was the only witness called by Mr. Lubow
Mr. Meyers then called Copake Supervisor Jeff Nayer to the stand to testify about other dates and places on the property, besides around the tree, where he saw piles of illegal material dumped and spread.
Judge Nichols cut the proceedings short, saying, “Nothing has been presented today that is clear and convincing evidence that the material I directed to be removed was removed.”
Mr. Lubow objected that he was not given a chance to sum up and make his case.
But the judge told him, “I see no reason to prolong the proceedings any further at this time.”
He sent Mr. Cascino back to jail and adjourned the case until January 10.
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