Evidence turned over, DEEP digs up dirt in Fairfield dumping case

BRIDGEPORT — State environmental workers Wednesday were seen digging around the contaminated Fairfield site at the heart of a law enforcement investigation while records detailing a kickback scheme were turned over to lawyers for two men facing charges related to illegal dumping.

The search warrants and environmental reports were provided to attorneys defending the men accused of illegally dumping contaminated soil on town-owned land Richard White Way.

“We have been waiting for this for several months,” said Thomas G. Cotter, who represents developer Jason Julian. Cotter and Frederick Paoletti, the attorney for Scott Bartlett, Fairfield’s fired superintendent of the Department of Public Works, also received copies of evidence seized by local police, among other documents.

Included in the large packet was an affidavit detailing allegations that Bartlett and his wife funneled kickback money through the bank accounts of a young woman who they had been appointed conservator for.

Staffers from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and representatives from the state’s attorney’s office were at the now-infamous fill pile property.

Workers were seen digging up the site, but prosecutors declined to comment on the nature of the search.

Sources, however, told Hearst Connecticut Media that DEEP had previously notified the town that it intended to do its own environmental testing to determine where and if any contaminated soil was still there.

Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tamberlyn Conopask, who is prosecuting the case for the chief state’s attorney’s office, declined comment.

Julian is accused of paying kickbacks to Bartlett to allow Julian’s construction company to dump hundreds of truckloads of soil containing toxic levels of lead and PCBs on town of Fairfield property adjacent to the town’s public works garage. He was charged with first-degree larceny, first and second-degree forgery, paying kickbacks and illegal dumping charges.

Bartlett is charged with receiving kickbacks, first-degree larceny, second-degree forgery, illegal dumping and conspiracy charges.

Superior Court Judge Joan Alexander granted their attorneys a continuance to Jan. 29 to give them time to review all the information.

Former Fairfield Director of Public Works Joseph Michelangelo, who was recently fired, has also been charged with second-degree forgery and illegal dumping charges. He was not in court on Wednesday.

After testing 60 sites at parks, fields and playgrounds, the town identified seven areas that need to be cleaned up.

Cleanup has begun at two town parks, and planning is in the works for five more sites — three of which are at local elementary schools.

Previously sealed documents, released Tuesday, state that in the week following Bartlett’s arrest, Fairfield police received an anonymous tip that Bartlett has been making suspicious transactions on a young woman’s General Electric Credit Union account that included large deposits and withdrawals.

An investigation by police determined that Bartlett and his wife had been appointed conservators over the finances of a young woman who is the daughter of a town DPW worker who died in 2013, according to the documents. The documents state the young woman is mentally disabled and incapable of handling her own finances.

A credit union official told police that the Bartletts had made large deposits and equally large withdrawals from the young woman’s account over a period of time.

“These affiants know that those involved in municipal corruption, and who receive illegal monetary kickbacks, hide said kickbacks in the bank accounts of others that they control, in order to avoid detection,” the documents state.

Neither Bartlett nor his wife have been charged in relation to these allegations. Bartlett’s lawyer declined comment except to say he is looking at the documentation.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Bartlett and Michelangelo conspired with Julian, a former Barnum Festival ringmaster and co-owner of Julian Enterprises, to allow Julian’s company to dump the cleanup of that site has already cost Fairfield taxpayers more than $779,000 and that figure is expected to be higher as more dumping locations are discovered, according to court documents.

The documents detail how Bartlett had fallen into a deep financial hole. His $628,000 Fairfield home was in foreclosure, he had defaulted on $48,000 in credit card bills and he owed nearly $3,000 in Fairfield property taxes.