Judge dismisses tickets written to Dejana

Judge dismisses tickets written to Dejana
A Dejana Industries trailer at 134 Shore Road, across the street from the Village of Manorhaven village hall.

A Manorhaven judge on Tuesday dismissed tickets written to businessman Peter Dejana for illegal trailers on two of his properties, saying the structures are actually buildings.

Judge Peter Gallanter said under the village code the structures, which he had previously fined as illegal trailers, are considered buildings.

“The village code does not provide a definition for what a trailer is,” Gallanter said. “However, the village code does provide a definition for what a building is.”

Plumbing and cable TV are hooked up to the structures, Gallanter said, which further proves they are buildings.

Donald Badaczewski, the village court clerk, declined to comment.

Although Gallanter said the structures are buildings, it is not known if Dejana received permits for them or if he is paying taxes on them.

Bill Rogel, the village’s superintendent of buildings, issued Dejana tickets on April 17 for trailers on his 30 Sagamore Hill Drive and 134 Shore Road properties after not imposing fines for months even though a settlement called for them.

The settlement, passed on Feb. 25, 2016, gave Dejana 60 days to provide a legal argument about how the trailer at 134 Shore Road was exempt under village code or fines would be imposed. At 30 Sagamore Hill Drive, he had six months to apply for a building permit or remove two trailers.

Rogel did not respond to a request to comment.

The tickets did not resume following the settlement.

Dejana is the owner of Dejana Industries, which encompasses several other snow removal and street sweeping companies.

Efforts to reach Dejana were unavailing.

The village began issuing violations to Dejana daily under the previous administration, but only issued one set of tickets in April because the village is following the procedure that has been historically followed, Mayor Jim Avena said last month.

Avena, who is engaged to Dejana’s sister and is the grant administrator for Dejana’s foundation, the Peter and Jeri Dejana Family Foundation, could not be reached for comment.

Avena voted in favor of the Feb. 25, 2016, settlement, which was passed as a resolution when he was a village trustee and specifically refers to the structures as trailers.

The village began fining Dejana for the trailers at the two sites on Nov. 6, 2013, and subsequently fined him 120 times, Patrick Abramski, the former superintendent of buildings and chief code enforcer, said in Village Court transcripts on Oct. 21, 2014.

Because 350 days passed between the first fine and the Oct. 21, 2014, court date,  Gallanter deemed each day the trailers have been on the properties a violation — a total of 700 days, 350 for each property.

Gallanter fined Dejana $34,500 for each property — a total of $69,000.

In addition, Dejana agreed to pay $75,000 to the village as part of the settlement.

Dejana’s attorney for the case was Gerard Terry, the former North Hempstead Democratic Committee chairman, who pleaded not guilty on Jan. 31 to federal charges of tax evasion and obstruction of the IRS.

Efforts to reach Terry were unavailing.

Rogel said in March he was unaware that the matter had not be resolved until he read the Board of Trustee meeting minutes after a reporter for Blank Slate Media made him aware of them.

“I was not aware that the settlement did not finally dispose of this matter until I read the minutes of the Board of Trustees meeting dated February 25, 2016,” Rogel said in March. “I was under the assumption that a final settlement was reached by the previous administration between the property owner and the village that completely resolved this matter and so there was no issue with the Dejana trailers.”

The two trailers at 30 Sagamore Hill Drive have signs that say “GE Capital Modular Space,” referring to a company that manufactures mobile offices.

It is not known whether Dejana is running his company out of the trailers.

If the fines had resumed at $100 a day, Dejana would have been fined $33,800 for the 134 Shore Road trailer and $21,600 for the 30 Sagamore Hill Drive trailers.

When asked in March why the fines did not resume under the village’s former administration, former village attorney James Toner said, “This was not within my jurisdiction as the village attorney, and the code enforcer would need to answer that.”

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