Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said town officials are angered by the alleged recycling scheme that stole more than $200,000 from its coffers, but applaud the town employees and policies that uncovered it.
"It's an outage," Vecchio said. "Due to diligent work of Public Safety department, which has solid waste division and monitors the town contracts and other types of charters, we found this carting company was diverting cardboard and paper recycling to an outside place."
Suffolk County police that involved garbage carters collecting Smithtown homeowners' recyclable cardboard and paper and selling it to West Babylon-based DeMatteo Salvage for a personal profit.
William A. Stegemann, 55, of Lindenhurst, and Michael Dalessandro, 43, of East Patchogue, both Jody Enterprises employees, were arrested and face felony charges of grand larceny in the second degree.
Joseph DeMatteo, principal of DeMatteo Salvage, has been arrested and charged with grand larceny in the second degree.
Vecchio credits Public Safety Chief John Valentine for noting something was amiss at the town's municipal services. Valentine's duties involve monitoring the town's Division of Solid Waste to make sure trucks bring garbage to the town's plant, and are not diverted elsewhere.
Smithtown town employees noticed Medford-based carter Jody Enterprises, who collect garbage and recyclables in four of the town's 10 districts, were on average dropping less tonnage than the town's other contractors, who cover similar sized geographical areas.
They notified Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota's office approximately 6 months ago, who has the resources to initiate the ongoing investigation that resulted in Wednesday's arrests.
Vecchio said all relevant town records have been turned in to district attorney's office to aid in investigation, and dismissed thoughts any town employees at the recycling center may have been aware of the scheme. The supervisor said Spota's welcome to investigate.
"Our people constantly review the records. There are fluctuations in recycling. When cardboard and paper come in on a rainy day, its heavier than normal. If it's a dry day, it weighs in lighter," Vecchio said.
He also assured that Smithtown will also be looking into the matter themselves, including Jody Enterprises' contract with the town.
Suffolk County District attorney blamed one reason the recycling scheme went unnoticed as long as it did, was Smithtown did not require GPS tracking devices in the carter's trucks.
"When the contracts on these routes were bid seven years ago, they had to have a natural gas powered vehicle. I don't know anyone who seven years ago would have thought to put in a GPS or made that a requirement of the contract," Vecchio said.
All of the town's garbage and recyclable collection contracts are coming up shortly for rebid, according to the supervisor, who said GPS tracking might be considered for the future.