Eastchester High’s `fill-for-fields’ plan lacked state permit
David McKay Wilson | The Journal News
Anthony Adinolfi, the dirt broker who calls himself “The Dirtman,” yesterday was charged with violating state environmental law in the “fill-for-fields” project at Eastchester High School.
State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer charged that the Mahopac resident had violated state law by not obtaining a landfill permit when he charged haulers a fee for truckloads of dirt and debris dumped on the high school field.
Adinolfi was president of Dirtman Enterprises Inc., the firm involved with fill-for-fields projects in Eastchester, Greenburgh and Valhalla. The projects involved allowing haulers to dump dirt and debris from local construction projects in exchange for donations to defray the cost of new artificial turf fields.
A 2003 article by The Journal News on the projects sparked an investigation by state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who last year found numerous violations of state laws in these projects. He referred the matter to Spitzer for possible criminal prosecution.
Adinolfi surrendered voluntarily to authorities yesterday and pleaded not guilty before Acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard A. Molea. He faces a felony charge that could lead to up to four years in prison, and fines of up to $75,000 a day of violation. Adinolfi, who has “Dirtman” tattooed on his left biceps, also could be ordered to pay restitution to the school district.
His attorney, Brian Gardner, said it was unclear whether Adinolfi or the Eastchester school district was required to obtain the landfill permit. The dump project occurred on district property and was arranged by Schools Superintendent Robert Siebert.
“Mr. Adinolfi was the middleman for dirt the district wanted,” Gardner said.
Siebert declined comment on the legal issues involved in Adinolfi’s indictment. He said the district answered all questions asked by Spitzer’s investigators.
“We have cooperated in every way with the Attorney General’s Office,” he said. “We have done that and will continue to do that.”
Spitzer charged that Adinolfi was running a landfill on school property as he collected dumping fees from haulers who deposited their loads at Eastchester High.
The indictment, which was unsealed yesterday, was welcomed by William O’Leary, whose property adjoins the high school field, which now features a 20-foot high bank that slopes steeply to his property line.
“We were dismissed by school officials when the dumping began, but this vindicates what we were saying from the start – that the school was allowing illegal activity to take place,” O’Leary said.
The contract between the district and Dirtman, which was drawn up on Dirtman’s stationery and signed by Siebert in October 2002, was ratified by the Eastchester school board 13 months later, after the dumping was done.
An estimated 100,000 cubic yards of fill was dumped at Eastchester High. Comptroller Hevesi estimated haulers saved between $1.2 million and $3 million by being allowed to dump for free there. How much Adinolfi charged the dumpers was not disclosed.
Hevesi’s report stated that dumpers at another fill-for-fields site in Eastchester paid $5 a cubic yard.
Subsequent soil tests found the fill dirt contained polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a potential cancer-causing substance that is ubiquitious in urban soils. The district has since covered the fields with a foot of clean soil under a consent decree with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.