Possibility of fraud charges debated over fill pile issues
Published 2:19 pm, Thursday, May 18, 2017
FAIRFIELD — At least one Representative Town Meeting member thinks the town should consider criminal fraud charges against Julian Development, the former operator of the fill pile at the Public Works yard.
The town has commenced a civil lawsuit against Julian for breach of contract and is seeking $3 million in damages. The town alleges Julian did not fulfill the terms of the three-year contract, which called for the company to reduce the pile of road construction debris. Instead, according to court papers, the pile tripled in size. Julian also allowed a small load of what appears to be demolition debris contaminated with low levels of lead and PCBs into the site.
“You might want to consider parallel criminal action” Ron Pine, R-3, said at Monday’s joint RTM committees meeting, where Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo and Conservation Director Brian Carey provided an update on the fill pile status.
The police, Pine said, could help out in that investigation, gathering witnesses and evidence.
“It’s not out of the realm, and it wouldn’t interfere with the civil case,” he said.
Pine noted that the pile grew from about 40,000 cubic yards to 120,000 cubic yards while under Julian’s control.
“Would you say that Julian Development perpetrated a massive fraud on the town of Fairfield? Would that be an accurate statement?” Pine asked.
Michelangelo said he didn’t think the meeting was the place for such a discussion, particularly since there is a lawsuit pending. He also said that wouldn’t a decision that he himself made.
“It seems like some sort of criminal activity happened here,” agreed RTM member Hannah Gale, D-2. “Is our law enforcement helping?”
Carey said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has not issued any orders regarding the fill pile or any notices of violation.
He also said it would be “almost impossible” to pinpoint who brought the contaminated material to the fill pile, and when. “It happened over a course of a couple of weeks,” Carey said.
Michael Herley, R-10, wanted to know who was to blame for the situation, if anyone had taken responsibility, and if anyone had been reprimanded.
“Obviously, this is a very difficult situation,” Herley said but added that what he’s hearing from town officials is “Julian, Julian, Julian. On the town side, where’s the accountability? Who’s responsible for this happening?”
“I’m the director of Public Works, so it’s within my purview,” Michelangelo said, adding that neither he, nor Public Works Supt. Scott Bartlett, have been reprimanded or disciplined. “We admitted to our mistake, and wouldn’t do the same thing the next time,” Michelangelo said.