State magistrate hands Alossos final victory in DEP case
In the conclusion to a long-running case that began with the construction of a modest house in Oak Bluffs, an administrative magistrate eliminated the remaining penalties assessed against Joseph and Evelyn Alosso of Oak Bluffs.
The decision is contained in a 35-page final ruling issued June 12 by Division of Administrative Law Appeals administrative magistrate Mark L. Silverstein.
In an earlier decision issued in October 2007, Mr. Silverstein ruled that a decision by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to levy $19,685 in fines against the couple, in connection with the installation of a septic system for a new house, was not supported by the facts of the case.
That decision vacated $19,685 of $28,310 in civil administrative penalties. The language of the summary decision also cast doubt on the strength of the DEP's case going forward on the one issue where the facts remained in dispute.
In his June ruling Mr. Silverstein vacated the remaining $8,625 in penalties.
"I was exonerated of all charges," said Mr. Alosso, facilities manager for the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown wastewater plants. "It cost me a fortune, but that is beside the point."
Mr. Alosso said he is glad the five-year ordeal is over. He said from the beginning that state officials expected he would pay the fines and go away but it was an important fight. "It was expensive, but maybe in the future it will help somebody else out," he said.
The DEP fines arose in connection with Mr. Alosso's construction of a four-bedroom house in 2003, and against the backdrop of Oak Bluffs's rough and tumble brand of personal politics. From the beginning Mr. Alosso charged that the motivation for the fines was political.
The DEP launched an investigation into the septic system that the Alossos installed after receiving a complaint about the property. At the time, Mr. Alosso was a board of health member.
The crux of the issue was the state's assertion that a septic system for a four-bedroom house should not have been allowed on the property at 53 Carol Lane. Mr. Alosso maintained that he simply replaced a preexisting four-bedroom house with a new four-bedroom home, and installed the necessary septic system.
Mr. Alosso maintained that the case never should have gotten as far as it did. He said the Oak Bluffs board of health and DEP should have seen that.
Mr. Alosso said his experience provides one reason why good people avoid political service. "The smallest of accusations can turn into quite an ordeal for yourself and your family," he said. "I am glad with the judge's decision."