MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Town Councilman Mike Barile has been arrested and faces accusations of theft of services in relation to an alleged illegal sewer hookup at his property on South Lake Boulevard, formerly known as the Blu at the Lakehouse Restaurant.
Barile turned himself in to the Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday, Jan. 5, and was given an appearance ticket for a Jan. 25 court date when he will be formally arraigned, charged with theft of services, a misdemeanor. He was released in his own custody.
Court documents obtained by Mahopac News show that the investigation was led by Sheriff’s Department Investigator Paul Piazza Jr. A spokesperson for the Department said the investigation began over a year ago.
In the documents, police allege that the theft of services took place between November 1991 and April 2020. The document states, “[Barile]... with intent to avoid payment... [for] the service of sewer provided by the Town of Carmel, did obtain such services... by connecting the septic on the property he owns at 825 South Lake Blvd. to the Town of Carmel [sewer] line in a manner that was inconsistent with prior approvals. The stated connection... was undetectable and allowed [Barile] to utilize the septic line and not be charged [for its use.]”
Barile has long maintained that while the sewer connection did exist, for most of its time it was a “dry line” and not utilized until recently.
District Attorney Bob Tendy said that theft of services is a class A misdemeanor. It can carry up to $1,000 in fines and as much as a year in jail.
Tendy called theft-of-services laws “quirky.”
“If you steal $5,000 in jewelry from someone, it’s a felony,” he said. “But if you steal $5,000 in services, it’s a misdemeanor.”
Tendy said the investigation has concluded and no more charges are likely to be forthcoming.
“We’ve charged him with what we are permitted, with what we have available,” the DA said. “He’s been given his date in local court and we will take it from there.”
Joseph J. Tock, the attorney for Barile, said he had no comment on the case at this time.
As for whether Barile would resign or be removed from the Town Board, both Barile and Supervisor Ken Schmitt said they had no comment.
Last month, the Town Board issued Barile a $105,000 fine for failing to get the permits needed for the hookup in a timely manner. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had warned the town that it, too, could be held liable and hit with fines if the situation was not remedied. As a result, at a cost of more than $200,000, the town hired New York City-based law firm Cozen O’Connor to investigate the matter and defend the town.
The controversy dates back decades to when Barile converted a hamburger stand on the property into the restaurant it is today. He was given permission by the town in 1991 to connect the property, which had been using a septic system, to the town’s sewer line if he obtained the proper permits. An investigation in 2019 alleged that that was never done.
Barile was given a notice of violation as a result of the unpermitted connection, but regulatory agencies overseeing the connection (including the state Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection) opted to give him a chance to obtain the necessary permits to bring the hookup into compliance.
Town officials contend, however, that Barile never lived up to his obligations to come into compliance and said that a dye test conducted in December 2019 revealed that the restaurant was connected to Sewer District No. 1 at a second location that “at no point [was] disclosed or approved by the town or the Department of Environmental Protection,” according to town documents.
Consequently, the town engineering department issued Barile a second notice of violation, saying all connections must be capped and giving him a timeline in which to do it.
In March 2020, Barile conducted a successful pressure test of the sewer line originating at the restaurant and reconfigured the line so that it entered Sewer District No. 1 at a Clark Place manhole. He completed the closure of the second connection, all under the observation of the town engineering department and representatives of other interested agencies. The DEP then approved the out-of-district connection, meaning Barile had met the conditions set forth in the original 1991 agreement.
While Barile’s troubles with the town and other regulatory agencies may have now been settled, it appears his trouble with law enforcement may have just begun.