Former Councilman Sam Cerciello was charged with "illegally dumping" at the yard on John Avenue after three borough employees witnessed the incident, which one of the employees caught on camera, police records show.
The police report did not specify what Cerciello did in the June 22 incident, but Cerciello said in an interview Tuesday he was with one of his workers for his contracting business at the time and had four or five plastic garbage bags placed in a trash container at the lot while he was there dropping off his recycling. He said the trash bags were from tenants who had just moved out of his two-family house, and contained items such as toys, not food.
Cerciello said he appeared in court on Thursday and paid the $100 fine for the offense. He appeared in Long Hill Municipal Court before Judge James D. Bride to avoid conflicts from having served on Madison's governing body, where he finished an unexpired term from November 2009 through 2011. In the last election, he announced he was running for mayor, then decided to run for a council seat instead, but because he used Wite-Out to alter his petition after he changed his mind about what seat to run for.
Cerciello said he needed to use his truck that day, which is why he was dropping off his recycling and dumping the trash bags while he was there. He said he has seen other people do the same thing and he wonders why they decided to fine him instead of telling him at the time to stop, or asking him to take the bags out.
He said he believes he was photographed and fined to "send me a message" after talking about what he saw as Department of Public Works issues when he was on the council.
Cerciello said one of the employees who witnessed the incident snapped a photo with his cell phone, and the employees notified Public Works Superintendent David Maines.
"Anybody else would have called me up and said, 'Get the bags, you can't dump there,'" Cerciello said.
Maines declined to comment.
In a police incident report, Det. Sean Plumstead said he was instructed by Det./Lt. Jerry Mantone to "conduct an investigation into an alleged illegal dumping incident that had occurred at the Madison Department of Public Works."
After speaking to the employees and receiving the photo, police determined Cerciello was in violation of Borough Ordinance 120-4, "Illegally dumping in a public place, namely the DPW yard," the report says.
The report said Borough Administrator Ray Codey was advised of the outcome of the investigation because the borough was the victim in the case. Plumstead said he was advised on July 5 the borough wished to pursue the matter and he hand-delivered the summons to Cerciello.
Update: Cerciello's guilty plea came with a $106 fine and $33 in court fees, according to the Madison Municipal Court.