Sunday, December 17, 2006

My interview wtih Mike Cholowsky

In reporting the story ("Who's minding the mine?") for last week's News-Review, I called Mike Cholowsky for comment. He called me back late Wednesday, past deadline, and I plan to report on that in the upcoming edition.

He didn't appreciate my questions, to say the least. He accused me of attacking him. Referring to his Brentwood facility, which uses rail to ship garbage (something the DEC really likes because it keeps trucks off the roads, helping to limit air pollution — now that they're forcing LI towns to long-haul thousands of tons of trash off-island!).

"I'm just trying to do a good thing," Cholowsky told me. "Why do you have to put a negative spin on this? Why do you want to attack me?"

He said his mining permit condition (prohibiting involvement in the solid waste industry, as per his affidavit) was intended to apply to the operation of East End Recycling only; it wasn't a general prohibition. I pointed out that the language of his affidavit and the special condition of the permit were both very general and made no mention of East End Recycling.

He said:

"The documents I signed with DEC regarding solid waste pertained to the overlap in East End Recycling's permit at the time. That was going to be a waste facility on Calverton Industries site. As it pertained to that and that site. It was not a general prohibition."

So why was it worded to read like a general prohibition?

"That was, those permits and requirements were, uh, you know, through the DEC. We walked through both applications, both permits."

Cholowsky explained his apparently false answers to DEC application questions this way:

"I just answered the way my lawyer told me to."

I have a copy of the criminal court docket from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York indicating that Michael Cholowsky III pled guilty to one count of "conspiracy to defraud the United States" in 2000.

Why, I asked Cholowsky, did he answer "no" to the question on the DEC application asking if he'd ever been convicted of a crime involving fraud? (The actual language of the application states "crime involving fraud, bribery, perjury, theft or an offense against public administration."

His answer:

"I pled guilty to conspiracy to make extortion payments. That application was reviewed by my attorney, by DEC attorneys, by everybody involved. I answered them as directed."

What he says he pled guilty to doesn't match the criminal court docket. But even so, how could "conspiracy to make extortion payments" not come within the language on the application?

No answer.

Of course, I also asked him how he knew Barbara Blass had been at the DEC reviewing the Calverton Industries file on the morning of Oct. 2? (As I reported in the News-Review this week, the councilwoman FOILed the CI file, spent the morning of Oct. 2 reviewing it, and got a call from Cholowsky within an hour of her return to Riverhead Town Hall that day, in which he told her she needn't FOIL his DEC records if she wanted to know anything about his business. All she had to do was ask him." Ms. Blass told me she felt the purpose of his call was to intimidate her.

When I asked him this question ("How did you know BB had been at DEC looking at his records...") he laughed for quite a while — too long, it seemed. Then he asked me, "How do you know that I knew?" And then he laughed some more. Then he told me that he really didn't know. I asked, "So what are you, psychic?" More laughter. "No, I wouldn't say I'm psychic." Then the laughter stopped and his voice just got sort of cold, and he said: "But I'm not stupid, either."

OK, then.

He called me back again within 10 minutes to make the following comments (this is how I typed what he said as he spoke, cut and pasted from my notes):

"im a little upset
my emjay project is something that im really proud of
a good concept
i got shot down in calverton
found another location
i really went out on a limb
spent a lot of money
it's unchartered territory

the trouble that i got into in 99
that was the most difficult time of my life
the worst 2 yrs of my life

im not trying to do anything wrong
im trying to do good things
i feel like anything i try to do i get attacked

i think i did a good thing
a good service
if we're going to move a million yards of waste off LI
it should be by rail

i think im doing a good thing
im not trying to hurt anybody
i don't see why i have to be dragged thru the mud & beat up
i made a mistake
i paid dearly for it
i feel like i should have a right to move on"

6 comments:

Ceil said...

Yeah Mike move on - out of Riverhead!

Denise, your tough to-the-point questions were answered in smoke and mirror fashion. I don't buy it. Too many inconsistencies. He actually lied on a legal document!
Ah - but his Lawyer made him do it

He didn't appreciate your questions? He has a lot to answer for and so does the DEC It's the round the mulbury bush game.

He feels attacked? Well sorry! Ask the concerned citizens a/k/a as taxpayers of Riverhead how they feel being duped again and again by corrupt scheming and incompetent
public officials!

enough! said...

Why is this behavior tolerated...by DEC & by the town?

I can understand why Barbara Blass wouldn't want to do it alone, given past events...but how many council members does it take to launch an investigation?

Anonymous said...

I know that Blass helped you gather facts for this story, but she has been very silent on the whole scandal. Silence is just as bad as corruption. Did she ever go to the authorities? Did she mention the debacle during her last campaign run? It's the duty of elected officials to protect us.

Anonymous said...

Denise, this story has all the makings of a best selling novel.

The problem is that it's non-fiction and the taxpayers have been duped, once again, by politicans, government agencies and "savy" "lawyered up" business people.

Maybe you should interview the lawyer who "made" him do it. Has there been a response from the DEC Amper? I'd bet that there are a lot of "rats" scurrying around right now.

Interesting that the Supervisor is now calling for a DA investigation after your article. Didn't he know about it? He's been in office for three years. Is he the monkey that doesn't see or hear?

And for those who attack Blass's silence as being as bad as corruption, have they ever heard of fear? Dead fish in her driveway, untimely intimidating telephone calls, all for 30K a year?

Keep it up Denise and don't allow the "rats" time to build nests!

Anonymous said...

Just read this weeks paper on line and I have to commend you and John on the great follow through on last weeks article.

These articles need to be sent to the AG's office, as Scully (The Director.) may be part of the problem,( Poor management?) for a proper investigation.

Why was ther no comment from The Pine Barrens Society? Were they interviewed? Doesn't this site border its protected area?


And personally, the letter from Dee Muma was a "teflon suit." Look at them not us. How come Tuccio didn't sign the letter too? Was Coates involved?

Keep the pressure on.

Anonymous said...

everyone should mind their own business!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!