A Brookhaven town spokesperson confirmed Thursday that Jody Enterprises, the company from which two employees stand accused of defrauding the Town of Smithtown in a recycling scheme, has an active contract with the Town of Brookhaven.
Jody Enterprises employees William A. Stegemann and Michael Dalessandro, as well as Joseph DeMatteo of DeMatteo Salvage Company, are accused of robbing the Town of Smithtown of more than $200,000 – possibly more – by operating a recycling scheme for more than two years.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota on Thursday said he has notified or will be notifying the other towns that have active contracts with Jody Enterprises. Brookhaven has had a contract with Jody Enterprises since 2009, but the town spokesperson could not say whether Brookhaven officials had yet received notice of the charges from Spota's office.
Four of Brookhaven's garbage districts, including Stony Brook and the Setaukets (District 1), Shoreham and Wading River (District 6), Brookhaven hamlet, South Yaphank and West Shirley (District 29), and East Moriches (District 34), are serviced by Jody Enterprises. According to the town, Jody Enterprises collects Brookhaven residents' trash and yard waste in addition to their recyclables and carts it to the town landfill in Yaphank.
Spota on Thursday said two employees of the Medford-based garbage carter created a recycling scheme that involved collecting Smithtown homeowners' recyclable cardboard and paper and selling it to West Babylon-based DeMatteo Salvage for a personal profit.
"I want to know how town employees could have missed something like this," Spota said.
Stegemann and Dalessandro were arrested and face felony charges of grand larceny in the second degree. Dalessandro also faces charges of criminal possession of stolen property.
Spota said Dalessandro would drive one of about eight trucks the company had picking up curbside recyclable cardboard and paper from Smithtown homeowners. Investigators collected security footage that showed Dalessandro – instead of delivering the truck to Town of Smithtown's municipal recycling facility off Old Northport Road in Kings Park – bringing the truckload of recyclables to DeMatteo Salvage for a cash payout of $400 to $450.
Town of Smithtown would have been able to sell the same recyclables for $1,000 to $1,200 a load, depending on weight.
Dalessandro would then call another Jody Enterprise driver and offer to trade his empty truck for a full load, saving them the trip to offload at Town of Smithtown's facilities, according to Spota.
By doing this, Dalessandro delivered an average of six trucks to DeMatteo per collection, worth between $2,000-2,500. He would then split this profit with Stegemann, according to investigators.
Spota said DeMatteo would collect the recycled products from Dalessandro and resell it for market value at a "significant profit."
DeMatteo has been arrested and charged with grand larceny in the second degree. Police seized a handgun and several thousand dollars from DeMatteo's facilities upon his arrest.
Suffolk police were tipped off to the scheme by Town of Smithtown Public Safety officials, who had made multiple inquiries to the municipal recycling facilities about the number of loads being delivered.
"Town of Smithtown Public Safety was instrumental in helping provide significant documentation to our offices," Spota said. "I commend them."
Jody Enterprises is one of four contractors employed by the town to collect residents' garbage and recyclables, covering the largest area with the most trucks. Yet, it dropped off fewer tons of trash at Smithtown's municipal recycling center than other contractors.
"We all want to know how town employees who supervise the town's recycling center failed to notice that significant amounts of recyclable material were not making its way to the Kings Park-Smithtown plant," Spota said.
The district attorney said his investigators are requesting all records from the Town of Smithtown for review.
"How could it be the tonnage was off by one-third and nobody knows about it?" Spota said.
He also said there is no clear evidence of criminal activity by Town of Smithtown employees at this time, and the town's elected officials were unaware of what was happening.
It is possible, though, that this recyclable scheme has affected other townships on Long Island.
Stegemann and Dalessandro formed a subsidiary company, Jody Enterprises of Babylon, and submitted a proposal to the Town of Babylon to be a contractor for its garbage and recyclable materials, officials said.
Spota said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer was immediately notified, and provided documents used in the investigation. The documents are being reviewed as to whether the men provided false information to the town in efforts to win the contract.
"I believe, in my opinion, 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," the district attorney said.
The investigation into Jody Enterprises of Babylon and Town of Babylon's contract is still active and ongoing.
The parent company, Jody Enterprises, also has active garbage and recyclable collection contracts with the Town of Islip and the Town of Huntington.
"I have already notified on of these towns, and I will be notifying the other towns today," Spota said.