2008-02-07 / Front Page


By Neil S. Friedman

By Neil S. Friedman

Arrested sanitation workers were assigned to this Foster Avenue garage. Neil S. Friedman
Four men assigned to the city's Foster Avenue Department of Sanitation (DSNY) garage were arrested last week on charges of accepting money from an undercover investigator posing as a homeowner to dispose of household garbage, a routine part of their job. In addition, they were also charged with picking up commercial refuse, which is prohibited by Department of Sanitation regulations.

Department of Investigations Com-missioner Rose Gill Hearn said the individuals arrested were: Brooklyn residents James Filosa, 43; Jeremy Bongiardina, 32; and John Laino, 47. The fourth, Joseph Rotola, 44, lives in Bellmore on Long Island. Each has been charged with Receiving Reward for Official Misconduct in the Second Degree, a class E Felony, and Receiving Unlawful Gratuities and Official Misconduct, both class A misdemeanors. If convicted, each faces up to four years in prison.

DSNY workers are required to remove residential refuse without charge and are prohibited from removing commercial debris from private residences.

The workers, who have been suspended for 30 days without pay, are assigned to the District 18 garage at 105-01 Foster Avenue.

Gill Hearn said, "Sanitation Workers are entrusted with doing an important and necessary job - one that taxpayers already pay them for. As these allegations demonstrate, a Sanitation Worker, or any city employee, who chooses to seek and accept additional benefits to do the work they are paid to do will face not just the possible loss of their job but criminal prosecution."

The city began its investigation after receiving a complaint that sanitation workers were refusing to collect a homeowner's household garbage unless they received money from the homeowner. As a result, a DOI investigator went undercover posing as a "homeowner."

According to the criminal complaint, on August 9, 2007, Rotola told an undercover investigator, as Filosa listened, that they would take care of the homeowner if he took care of them. Rotola and Filosa subsequently removed household and bulk garbage from the residence and the undercover investigator paid them $100.

A week later, Rotola and Filosa collected construction debris and household garbage from the same residence and the undercover investigator gave them another $100.

A different sanitation crew made collections at the same residence on September 6. Laino told the "homeowner" that if he took care of them, they would take care of him, as Bongiardina stood near by. Laino and Bon-giardina then removed household garbage and construction debris from the residence and the undercover investigator then gave Laino $80.

Bongiardina shook hands with the "homeowner" investigator and indicated that he would be seeing more of them.

Commissioner Gill Hearn thanked Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty and his staff for their assistance and cooperation in the investigation.

Despite the complaint and the charges, the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.



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