Representatives from Jody Enterprises got their chance Tuesday to make their case as to why the Babylon Town Board should move ahead with a 10-year contract with the garbage carting firm following the of two Jody managers in an alleged recycling scheme.
During the three-hour hearing at Babylon Town Hall, Vincent Messina, an attorney for Jody, told the board that there were no criminal charges against the company itself and that the two men facing grand larceny charges have been fired.
“This is a man who has worked hard all his life to build the company that he owns and he would do nothing to risk his integrity or reputation,” Messina said of Giustino Gallone, who owns both Jody Enterprises Inc., which collects trash from more than 30,000 homes in four townships, and Jody Enterprises of Babylon Inc., a subsidiary formed to service the Babylon contract.
“Mr. Gallone is as much a victim of their misdeeds as anyone else and will not tolerate that kind of conduct in his company,” added Messina, a former attorney for the Town of Islip.
William A. Stegemann, 55, of Lindenhurst, and Michael Dalessandro, 43, of East Patchogue, were arrested on Aug. 22 following an investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. and Dalessandro, who were billed as key personnel for Jody Enterprises of Babylon, are accused of selling Smithtown homeowners' recyclable cardboard and paper to West Babylon-based DeMatteo Salvage for a personal profit instead of delivering the recyclables to the Smithtown recycling plant.
The Babylon Town Board passed a resolution awarding a 10-year trash collecting contract to Jody Enterprises of Babylon in June, but Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer never it after hearing of an investigation of the company from the Suffolk DA.
Messina called the supervisor’s signature on the contract “ministerial,” implying that the contract was legally in effect upon Town Board approval, but Messina did not elaborate on that point Tuesday, instead focusing on how Jody has responded to the arrests.
The company spent $20,000 to upgrade the GPS systems in the firm’s trucks to allow for better tracking by Jody management and the Town itself, Messina said.
“If there are deviations from standardized routes that have been established, you will get an immediate notification,” he told the board. “That is the way the system is setup so that what we saw happen cannot be repeated."
The point of Tuesday’s hearing, Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said, was for the board to find out “whether or not we are dealing with people who are telling us the truth when we want to enter into a partnership with these people for the next 10-20 years.”
During a press conference announcing the arrests of Stegemann and Dalessandro, Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said he believed that “Jody Enterprises hid pertinent information from the Town of Babylon and provided false information to the Town of Babylon in efforts to win the contract.”
Schaffer said the DA did not provide the Town with specifics as to how Jody may have misled the board (the DA’s office said that investigation is still ongoing), but the town supervisor said Gallone did not properly detail his business holdings, including a 50 percent stake in Bay Shore-based Alpha Carting, when submitting the Jody contract proposal.
“Mr. Gallone was required to identify any companies he was involved in and he did not do that under this submission,” Schaffer said.
Jody now has until Friday to respond to the board’s questions and concerns. It will also need to explain why Dalessandro, who Gallone said was fired immediately after his arrest on Aug. 22, was seen on surveillance videos moving trucks and interacting with Jody employees, including Gallone, last week at a site in Bay Shore listed as owned by Alpha Carting.
The videos were produced by Alpha Group Investigations, a Farmingdale firm hired by the Town to verify that Dalessandro and Stegemann were no longer working for Jody. On the morning of Aug. 31, Dalessandro was on the site at 3:45 a.m. and remained there until 10 a.m., leaving only for about an hour in a car, said Christine Delello, a field investigator for Alpha Group.
Delello said Dalessandro was also seen at the site on Tuesday.
Messina told Patch after the hearing that there was a valid explanation as to why Dalessandro was at the site, but he would not speak on the record until Jody submitted its formal response to the Town on Friday.
Schaffer, who has said he may declare an emergency and seek out a short term contract with another trash collector as the town’s current contract with Babylon Source Separation Inc. [BSSI] expires on Oct. 1, had this reaction to the video, “I wanted an explanation because for me, if someone has been terminated, they have no reason to be at the site, particularly if they were terminated because they were arrested by the Suffolk DA for stealing from a town where it had a contract.”
Schaffer said Jody would be given the “full opportunity to be heard” before the town decides how to proceed.
Salvatore Mannino, of West Babylon, was the only member of the public to speak during the lengthy hearing Tuesday. He urged the board to stick with the Jody contract, which town officials have said will save taxpayers $10 million in its first year compared to the expiring BSSI contract.
"The new contract is far superior," Mannino said, adding of Jody Enterprises, "There was a problem with two people and they are no longer with the company."
The Town Board will likely meet again next week to discuss the contract, Schaffer said.
The Town of Smithtown, which may have lost more than $200,000 in the alleged recycling scheme, took Tuesday toward terminating its contract with Jody Enterprises.