2nd Fairfield official arraigned in toxic dumping scandal
BRIDGEPORT - A second Fairfield official was arraigned Thursday in connection with an alleged scheme to dump toxic waste on town property.
Joseph Michelangelo, 57, the town’s director of Public works, is charged with second-degree forgery, conspiracy to commit second-degree forgery, and illegally dumping charges.
During the brief court hearing he stood with his lawyer, Eugene Riccio, before Superior Court Judge Tracy Lee Dayton as Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tamberlyn Conopask recited the charges against Michelangelo. He did not enter pleas.
The judge continued the case to Sept. 18.
“I will aggressively defend my client against these charges in court,” Riccio said later as he left the Golden Hill Street courthouse with Michelangelo.
Michelangelo, who has served as the town’s public works director since 2012, is accused of conspiring with Scott Bartlett, the town’s superintendent of public works and Jason Julian, co-owner of Julian Enterprises to allow Julian’s company to dump truck loads of toxic waste onto property adjacent to the town’s public works garage.
Bartlett and Julian are charged with multiple counts of first-degree larceny, first-degree forgery, second-degree forgery, conspiracy, paying and receiving kickbacks and illegal dumping charges. They were arraigned Wednesday.
A legal defense fund has been set up for Bartlett with more than $18,000 raised so far. The cleanup of that site has cost Fairfield taxpayers more than $779,000, and that figure is expected to go higher as more dumping locations are discovered, according to court documents.
The court documents state that Bartlett, who was in financial straits, agreed to allow Julian to dump the material at the site in exchange for monetary kickbacks and giving Bartlett’s son a job.
“Joe Michelangelo…was aware of this dumping of the prohibited construction and demolition debris and allowed it to occur to the detriment of the town of Fairfield,” the arrest warrant application states. “As a result of this detailed criminal activity, the town of Fairfield has been left with tons of potentially contaminated and polluted material to be removed and/or managed at the expense of Fairfield taxpayers.”
The documents state that police believe Julian Enterprises resold some of the soil that was loaded with lead and PCBs as clean fill for construction projects in Fairfield. On Wednesday the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection dug up area of Gould Manor Park in Fairfield to check for the presence of the toxins.
The contaminated soil came from Julian’s project to demolish the former Connecticut Limousine property on Commerce Drive and from material dredged from Ash Creek, the documents state.