As work costing millions of dollars continues on regrading and improving the College Point Sports Complex, two additional men and their firm have been indicted for dumping illegal debris at the site.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced last week the indictments of Benjamin Rastelli Jr., 45, of Whitestone and Russell Marisak of Brooklyn and the firm, Enviro-Fill Inc., of Flushing, which is now considered defunct.
They have been charged with criminal mischief in the second degree, falsifying business records in the first degree and unlawful release to the environment of solid waste. The men face up to seven years in jail if convicted.
“These defendants are alleged to have made millions of dollars at the expense of the residents of College Point and their children and to have acted in total disregard of the residents’ safety and in violation of environmental laws,” Brown said.
The indictment states that while Enviro-Fill was under contract to regrade and level the property with clean landfill at no charge to the College Point Sports Association, the firm knowingly permitted the dumping of metal, glass, sheetrock, wire, plumbing fixtures and other dangerous materials at the site, knowing that it was illegal to do so.
“More significantly, they knew that they were dumping dangerous materials on which youngsters and others would likely be injured as a result of their actions,” Brown added. “The defendants also went to great lengths to conceal their activities by falsifying dump tickets and invoices.”
Joining Brown for the announcement were City Commissioner of Investigation Edward Kuriansky, Trade Waste Chairman Raymond Casey, Sanitation Commissioner Kevin Farrell, Environmental Protection Commissioner Joel Miele and State Environmental Conservation Region 2 Director Mary Ellen Kris.
The College Point Sports Complex was run by a local organization to organize and promote athletic competition for its youth. It leased the 22-acre site from the city for 25 years and was in the process of an improvement project when the city closed it down in 1997.
The site is located at 130th and Ulmer Streets, between 23rd and 26th Avenues.
Since closing it down, the city has taken back the property and is in the process of restoring the site at a cost of $10 million.
Trade Waste Chairman Casey said that the indictment brings the city the goal it sought to reach at the beginning of the investigation: “to return these ballfields to the children of College Point.”
The Sanitation Department was the first city agency to become involved in closing down the sports complex. Commissioner Farrell commended the inter-agency cooperation “for the betterment of its citizenry.
“To those who dump illegally, they should know that they will be caught. To the children of College Point, the completed ‘field of dreams’ becomes a reality.”
It was Sanitation that removed the construction and demolition debris and spent months regrading the site.
Last May, three defendants, Francesco Casalino, 42, of Malverne and his brothers, Anthony, 36, and Joseph, both of Howard Beach, and their three corporations were charged in a 734-count indictment. The three pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
The firms involved include Casalino Interior Demolition of Maspeth, Citiwide Recycling of Brooklyn and Astro Trucking of Maspeth.
According to Brown, Enviro-Fill offered to upgrade the College Point site by using about 140,000 cubic yards of clean fill to level the site. Its revenues were to come from area contractors, who would pay the firm $8-$10 a yard to be allowed to dump clean fill there.
Instead, Brown alleges the contractors permitted the dumping of construction and demolition debris and covered it with a thin layer of topsoil that quickly wore away revealing rusty pipes, concrete and other dangerous material “creating a hazard and making the land completely unusable.”
Tony Avella, outgoing president of the College Point Sports Association and councilman-elect for the area, said he was elated with the latest indictments.
“We are pleased the Queens district attorney is continuing to thoroughly investigate and aggressively prosecute those who illegally dumped on the sports complex.”
Avella, and his associates on the CPSA, denied knowledge of the illegal operation. “Sometimes bad things happen to good people,” he has repeatedly stated concerning the illegal dumping, which occurred over a two-year period.
Enviro-Fill went out of business following the closing of the fields and never paid a promised $1 million to remove the fill.
In the earlier indictments, Farrell noted that his department had removed 210,779 tons of debris from the fields, using 4,300 workers over a 63-week period.
Phase 1 renovation of the sports fields is still not completed. Avella said the youth of the area need it finished as quickly as possible.
“We need to redouble our efforts to get the complex built as soon as possible,” he said. “The first stage, which includes a new Little League field, baseball field and a roller hockey, is under way.”
It will also include a park house with comfort station, bleachers, landscaping and an entry plaza.
Later work calls for a soccer field, two additional Little League fields, parking, a football field, track and an adult soccer field.
At its peak, the sports association worked with 1,400 youngsters a year but after the complex was padlocked by the city, keeping the youths was difficult.
Sports association volunteers scrambled to find alternate fields but lost the entire football program.
Avella said that once the complex opens, the city has promised his group priority in applying for permits.