//

Third arrest made in illegal dumping investigation in Princeton

5
The River Road sewer department facility has been closed since the summer.

A second employee who worked for the municipality of Princeton has been charged by the Mercer County Prosecutor in connection with the illegal dumping investigation in Princeton.

Frank Casole, 60, was charged this week with being an accomplice to bribery in the second degree for allegedly being complicit in the illegal dumping scandal by aiding a fellow employee, Thomas Hughes, in 2018. The prosecutor’s office alleges that Casole had knowledge of the bribes his supervisor allegedly accepted, and that he allegedly recorded and concealed the illegal dumping by allegedly keeping track of the truckloads of illegal waste being dumped and co-mingling the construction waste with other waste so it wouldn’t be discovered.

Hughes, the municipal sewer department supervisor who allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for allowing companies to dump waste at the River Road facility, was charged with bribery in the second degree in June of 2019. Pantelis Kounelias, the owner of V & K Construction in Edison, was charged in September.

Kounelias allegedly paid Hughes about $3,000 in bribes to allow him to dump excavated soil from a municipal water park project at the Princeton sewer department yard between April 1 of 2018 and August 31 of 2018. The park project excavation project was completed before August of 2018, but dirt was also allegedly dug up at the property next door to the park, or it is possible that construction waste was being dumped at the municipal facility from other private projects.

The next court appearance for Kounelias is scheduled for October 30. Hughes’ next court appearance is scheduled for November 20. Casole is scheduled to appear in Mercer County Superior Court on October 31.

All of the charges are the result of an investigation by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Economic Crime Unit. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Economic Crime Unit at (609) 989-6365.

Planet Princeton first published stories about the illegal dumping at the River Road facility in late May. Employees alleged that at least four companies were allowed to dump waste at the facility in exchange for cash. They also said a local developer was allowed to purchase sewer piping for teardown redevelopment projects in exchange for cash. Employees for the department and municipal equipment were also allegedly used by one contractor for private sewer jobs.

Frank Casole

Hughes and Casole are no longer employed by the municipality. Both have been terminated. Two other municipal employees have also been terminated as a result of the investigation. No other business owners allegedly involved in the illegal dumping have been charged yet. When Planet Princeton first published stories on the dumping, town officials said there was a “misunderstanding” by Planet Princeton about what was happening at the site.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

5 Comments

  1. Here comes the lawyer parade. I sincerely hope the other real professionals in their respective careers report all the individuals involved to their licensing boards as well. This more than likely will be a slap on the wrist for these guys but hopefully, at the very least, their operating licenses get revoked. This type of behavior is an insult to those who do their jobs with class everyday. Bob Hough and Thomas Hughes were supposed licensed professionals and Princeton will now pay a heavy price for their greed and gross negligence.

    Thank you Kystal for keeping up on this story despite all the high level stonewalling. It’s a real shame our current leaders still feel no obligation to acknowledge this scandal in a way that’s even remotely respectable to the residents of this town. I’m voting for anything but what’s at the helm currently, what could possibly be worse than what we got now.

  2. Three arrests and four terminations – some “misunderstanding.” The fact that town officials will not produce public records to the press concerning this public health scandal is all the voters need to know this November.

  3. Krystal,
    Way to stay with this story despite official stonewalling and pushback. Great job of local investigative reporting.

  4. And the story continues with another arrest. Great investigative reporting, Krystal Knapp. Thank you for the work you do – often at the risk of ridicule. I, for one, appreciate your reporting. Time to clean up and weed out the scoundrels!

  5. I guess I will be the first one commenting on this. Well, well, well, 4 employees were let go, 2 of them have been charged also a contractor. What a « misunderstanding »!!!!! Ladies and gentlemen, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, omissions, they all happen when something is going on. I don’t buy it.
    This town should be paying attention closely, it is our tax money that goes into these « misunderstandings », it is not only Princetonians’ pockets but also their health that will suffer. This is a colossal « misunderstanding », and can’t wait to hear the actual numbers, how much this will cost with consultants, cleanings, legal fees, and perhaps, even pensions that will continue no matter if the employees are fired, an issue worth looking into.
    No matter from what angle you are looking, this is very bad, who knew things like this happen in Princeton, how is this possible? Don’t we always hear, “This is Princeton, darling”?

Please share your thoughts on this story.

%d bloggers like this: