Village issues tickets to Dejana for illegal trailers

Village issues tickets to Dejana for illegal trailers
A Dejana Industries trailer at 134 Shore Road, across the street from the Village of Manorhaven village hall.

The Village of Manorhaven has issued tickets to businessman Peter Dejana for illegal trailers on two of his properties after not imposing fines for months even though a settlement called for them.

Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena said the village’s code enforcement department issued two violations for trailers at Dejana’s 30 Sagamore Hill Drive property and his 134 Shore Road property on April 17.

Dejana is scheduled to appear in village court on May 23, Avena said.

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 the trailers.

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

Avena, who is engaged to Dejana’s sister and is the grant administrator for Dejana’s foundation, the Peter and Jeri Dejana Family Foundation, said if the matter came before the Board of Trustees as a settlement, he would recuse himself.

“If I feel like any conflict of interest is ever involved, I will recuse myself,” Avena said. Unless there was a settlement, it probably wouldn’t come before the board, but if it did, I would be completely removed from the process.”

Although the trailers were ticketed daily in the past, Avena said, the village is following the procedure that has been historically followed.

“It’s like any other ticket issued,” he said. “The ticket is issued, and they have to come in before a judge.”

Avena voted in favor of the Feb. 25, 2016, resolution when he was a village trustee.

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, Peter Gallanter, the village justice, 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, he 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.

The superintendent of buildings and chief code enforcer, William Rogel, said last month 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 trailer at 134 Shore Road, which can be seen from Manorhaven Village Hall, appears to be using electricity as there are cameras and lights hooked to the outside of the structure.

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

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

Section 184 of the village code, which includes trailers, states that a person or a firm who does not comply with the code could be fined $10 to $100.

In court, former village Attorney James Toner, who was the prosecutor, asked that the maximum fine be imposed because Dejana had not complied with the village and “he continues to violate the statutes of the village.”

Terry was not present in court on Oct. 21.

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 last month why the fines did not resume under the village’s former administration, 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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