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Trio of brothers sentenced for College Point dumping

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Three brothers convicted of dumping illegal construction waste on the College Point ballfields were sentenced to pay $250,000 in restitution last Thursday.

Francesco Casalino of Malverne, L.I. and his brothers Anthony and Joseph Casalino of Howard Beach were sentenced almost three years after they were indicted for allegedly dumping truckloads of debris, including pipes and concrete, on the ballfields.

The Casalinos pleaded guilty in 2001 to releasing more than 10 cubic yards of solid waste into the environment. A spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown would not comment on why it took until 2004 to sentence them.

“I feel that whole situation took much too long to remedy,” said College Point activist and TimesLedger columnist Sabina Cardali. “(The ballfields are) for children. It should’ve been settled before this.”

The maximum sentence the Casalino brothers faced had they been convicted at trial would have been four years in prison and $25,000 for each environmental violation.

According to the terms of the plea deal, the brothers must collectively pay $250,000 in restitution by Jan. 5, 2005. Frank Casalino made the first payment of $100,000 at last Thursday’s sentencing, leaving $150,000 to be paid in monthly installments over the next year.

Anthony Casalino’s company, Astro Trucking of Maspeth, was also ordered to pay a $500 fine. The brothers also operated Casalino Interior Demolition Corp. in Maspeth and Citiwide Recycling Corp. in Brooklyn.

Frank and Anthony Casalino had no comment at the sentencing. Joseph Casalino was sentenced in absentia due to hospitalization after an industrial accident.

The brothers’ sentencing was the latest chapter in the College Point ballfields’ troubled history.

The 22-acre site, which was leased from the city by the College Point Sports Association, was padlocked in October 1997 when Sanitation Department inspectors discovered potentially harmful construction debris had been dumped there. The fields’ closure deprived 1,300 children of a place to play baseball, football and hockey.

The sports association had hired Flushing company Enviro-Fill in 1995 to develop the fields for free in exchange for the company’s charging outside contractors to dump clean fill on the site.

The company instead accepted more profitable construction waste from the Casalinos, according to the city’s Corporation Counsel.

Enviro-Fill’s president, Russell Marisak, and vice-president, Benjamin Rastelli, later pleaded guilty for their role in the dumping. Rastelli was sentenced to three months of weekends in jail and $250,000 in restitution in September; Marisak was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 21.

The illegal debris took years to remove after the city took control of the park from the College Point Sports Association. In October the city sued the association, the Casalinos, Enviro-Fill, Marisak and Rastelli to recover $16 million in costs associated with cleaning up and building the ballfields.

The contractor last hired to develop the fields, ADC Contracting, was fired last month after the city said the company performed shoddy work and failed to meet its deadlines. A new contractor has not yet been named.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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