Judge keeps Fairfield dumping documents secret
BRIDGEPORT — Over the objections of Hearst Connecticut Media, a judge on Friday ordered that documents related to the investigation of illegal dumping of contaminated waste in Fairfield will remain secret.
Superior Court Judge Joan Alexander ruled that she found it necessary to extend the seal for another 30 days after a prosecutor said the case is still an ongoing investigation.
“Over the objection of Hearst Connecticut Media, I am granting the extension for 30 days; the request is necessary for the investigation of a criminal matter that overrides the public interests,” the judge said.
Joseph Michelangelo, who 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 contaminated waste onto property adjacent to the town’s public works garage.
The three, who are awaiting trial, have pleaded not guilty to illegal dumping and kickback charges.
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 the town.
The sealed documents relate to the results of a study of the dump site done by Osprey Environmental LLC at the request of the town.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tamberlyn Conopask urged the judge to extend the seal on the documents claiming their release to the public would adversely affect the state’s investigation.
State Rep. Brenda Kupchick, who is challenging First Selectman Mike Tetreau Nov. 5 for the town’s highest office, has made the scandal part of her campaign, saying Tetreau’s administration should have known earlier about the contaminated dirt and should have had more oversight of the DPW. Tetreau has said the town has been proactive in testing and cleanup since the scandal broke.
The town identified 60 sites at local parks and fields where the fill was usedat local schools and parks and has had them tested. The state Department of Health said this week that eight of the 10 town sites identified as contaminated should undergo remediation.
The 60 sites were those were used fill from the contaminated Public Works pile between 2013 and 2016, when it was managed by Julian Enterprises.
While the judge agreed to extend the seal, she warned Conopask that her order will come to an end and that the prosecutor may consider requesting that only certain aspects of the documents remain sealed beyond the 30 days.