Fairfield Public Works officials, construction company owner arrested in fill pile case
FAIRFIELD — Two town employees and the owner of a local construction company have been charged with illegally dumping hazardous waste on town property.
Superintendent of Public Works Scott Bartlett and Director of Public Works Joseph Michelangelo were arrested Monday.
Bartlett is accused of accepting bribes to allow Julian Enterprises to dump truckloads of material containing lead and PCBs on property adjoining the town’s public works garage on Richard White Way.
Bartlett, who was recently suspended with pay, was charged with three counts of first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, second-degree forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery and receiving kickbacks, as well as violation of solid waste facility requirements, illegal dumping of waste, conspiracy to commit illegal dumping of bulky/hazardous waste and illegal discharge of materials into waters.
“These are just allegations, and he is presumed innocent,” said his lawyer, Frederick Paoletti Jr.
Michelangelo was charged with second-degree forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery and illegal dumping of bulky/hazardous waste, as well as conspiracy to commit illegal dumping and illegal discharge of materials into waters.
Jason Julian, co-owner of Julian Enterprises, was arrested Tuesday. He was charged with three counts of first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, second-degree forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery and receiving kickbacks, as well as violation of solid waste facility requirements, illegal dumping of waste, conspiracy to commit illegal dumping of bulky/hazardous waste and illegal discharge of materials into waters.
“My client has been falsely accused and is looking forward to his day in court when justice will prevail,” said his lawyer, Thomas G. Cotter.
All three were released on promises to appear in court, pending arraignment in Superior Court on Wednesday morning.
The Fairfield Police Department released a statement Tuesday afternoon confirming the arrests.
“The primary focus of this investigation was to ensure the safety and well-being of the town and all of its residents,” the statement read. “This investigation has troubled all of us within the organization, as we know it will with the community as well. This case is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the Fairfield Police Department.”
First Selectman Michael Tetreau announced Tuesday evening that in addition to keeping Bartlett on administrative leave, he has placed Michelangelo on leave.
“The action I have taken to place Messrs. Michelangelo and Bartlett on administrative leave should not be interpreted as a judgement about the allegations which have been made,” Tetreau said. “However, given the facts that have come to light, and the need to ensure that our Department of Public Works can continue to serve the citizens of Fairfield with the quality of services they have come to expect, this is the right step for Fairfield’s residents and for our Public Works employees.”
Tetreau assigned the interim day-to-day management of the town’s Public Works operations to Director of Conservation Brian Carey and designated all supervisory engineering responsibilities and oversight to Bill Hurley, the town’s Engineering Manager. Permanent management appointments, he said, will be considered at a later date.
Tetreau also reaffirmed the professionalism of the town and its employees.
“The employees of the town of Fairfield are as talented, committed and professional as any you will find in municipal government,” Tetreau said. “We will not let this episode tarnish the reputation of our town.”
This is the latest development in a criminal investigation launched in 2017 to probe allegations of misconduct at the fill pile. Last month, police raided Julian’s offices in Fairfield in pursuit of evidence that Bartlett accepted bribes and favors from the company.
“Statements of town employees suggest that Bartlett was influenced by Julian Management through benefits provided him and/or his son, who is an employee of Julian Development and support the belief that Julian Development influenced Scott Bartlett by providing him with benefits,” according to court documents in the case. “Bartlett allowed Julian Development to accept prohibited/contaminated materials at the Fairfield facility, making the operation of the facility highly profitable for Julian Development.”
On Nov. 29, 2016, according to court documents, Cindy Knight, president of Logical Environmental Solutions, was at the processing facility when she saw three Julian dump trucks unload piles of a gray-brown granular material at the extreme back of the site. She took samples of the material which were tested and found to contain levels of PCBs six times greater than the state allowable level and lead, double of what is considered hazardous.
The town is also in the midst of legal proceeding to resolve a yearslong civil disagreement with Julian, which went into arbitration in July following lawsuits from both sides. The arbitration hearing was postponed due to developments in the criminal investigation. According to Tetreau, the town will continue to pursue its claims when arbitration resumes in September.