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Ex-Fairfield official pleads guilty in dumping scandal

Ben Baligad

The former director of public works in Fairfield has pleaded guilty to environmental fraud and conspiring with others to defraud the town.

In a statement released Tuesday, Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin
announced that Joseph Michelangelo, age 61, pleaded guilty to nine felony environmental and fraud offenses.

Michelangelo and six others were arrested in 2019 after an in-depth investigation by the Fairfield Police Department and the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. The group was suspected of illegal dumping on town property and other corrupt activities.

Michelangelo admitted that he, other town officials, and a hired contractor used the public works site as a dumping ground for contaminated and hazardous materials. He admitted to receiving solid waste at an unpermitted facility and illegal disposal of asbestos and PCBs.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assisted in the investigation.

The Statewide Prosecution Unit of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney will prosecute the case with the assistance of the Fairfield State’s Attorney’s office.

Under his plea agreement, Michelangelo would be required to make restitution payments to the Town of Fairfield for the harm caused.

Michelangelo is scheduled for sentencing on February 3, 2023, in Bridgeport Superior Court. He faces up to 10 years of incarceration. Charges against six other defendants are pending.

Jeniece Roman is WSHU's Report for America corps member who writes about Indigenous communities in Southern New England and Long Island, New York.