Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Legal News Around Long Island -- January 2009

It has been a busy month on Long Island.    


Suffolk County has made international news as a focal point of racism in the United States.  In November, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office began prosecuting a group of seven Patchogue teens who are accused of beating an equadorian immigrant to death.  Apparently, these teens were part of a much larger group of teens who would roam the streets and randomly assault hispanic residents.  Several news outlets have criticized Suffolk County Law enforcement for failing to pick up on the pattern for more than a year.  The County's handling of the situation is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's Office. (here and here).  

Unfortunately, this is merely one example of a larger trend of discrimination.  Twice last year, nooses were found hanging in the woods near Sag Harbor, (here and here), and a Ronkonkoma mortgage broker recently settled a suit brought by the State Attorney General's office accusing it of charging higher mortgage rates to black and hispanic applicants than to whites. (here).  

The Suffolk County Legislature is debating a bill that would form a special task force to examine the problem and draft a report within the next year suggesting solutions.  


State and Federal authorities are contemplating criminal charges against Agape World, a Happauge based investment firm that uses investor capital to fund short-term high-interest loans to developers and builders. (here). The goverment says it may have been a Ponzi scheme, but the firm's president, Nicholas Cosmo, claims that he stopped paying the investors because of loan defaults, and is in the process of taking legal action to collect on the loans.  


* On February 2nd, the Federal District Court in Central Islip began a trial in Francarl Realty v. Town of East Hampton.  The plaintiff, Francarl Realty, owns the Montauk ferry terminal, and claims that the Town of East Hampton violated the U.S. Constitution by unduly restricting interstate commerce when, in 1997, it enacted a local law that prohibits "car ferries" and "fast ferries" in Montauk Harbor. (Coverage here and here). 

* The Town of Southhold continues to fight with Cablevision over free public access. (here).  Cablevision's contract with the town requires that it provides public access channels free of charge.  With the conversion to digital, however, Cablevision is now charged $6.50 per month for a converter box.  This effects approximately 300,000 of Cablevisions subscribers, mostly older residents, who have only the bare-minimum access package that provides broadcast stations via cable.    

* The Unkechaug Tribe, of Suffolk County's Poospatuck Reservation, has filed a suit against Suffolk County and the Suffolk County Police Department for civil rights violations.  (here).  In September, Suffolk County and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg sued the tribe to halt the sale of tax free cigarettes.  Now, the tribe claims, Suffolk County police are standing guard at the entrance to their reservation and harassing residents and guests as they attempt to enter or leave.  

* The Peconic Baykeeper is continuing its years-long fight to end mosquito spraying in the Peconic Bay.  (here


* A personal injury suit against the Town of Huntington has led to the town correcting a dangerous condition on 25A.  The segment of roadway in question, a curvy portion of 25A in Centerport, is known for flooding and freezing over during the winter, but the Town has now hired a contractor to improve the drainage situation.

* The Court of Appeals has dismissed child endangerment charges against a group of Suffolk County nurses and their lawyer.  (See coverage, here and here). The group of 10 nurses quit in April 2006, on advice of counsel, in connection with a pay and benefits dispute.  The abrupt departure left the Avalon Gardens nursing home, in Smithtown, terribly understaffed and unable to care for the chronically ill children who reside there.  The Court of Appeals, however, found that it was improper to criminally charge the nurses with child endangerment.  

* A Manhattan Judge has thrown out a wrongful arrest suit by John Clifford, who was taken into custody in October, 2007, after throwing a fit on a LIRR train and yelling at a passenger to stop talking on their cell phone.  

* A new detail in the Wal-Mart trampling case.  As more suits are filed, it has been revealed that the worker who was trampled to death was trying to protect a pregnant woman, who was also being stampeded by the crowd.  

* Hamptons resident Paul McCartney is now officially divorced. 

* A Mineola attorney has settled charges in connection with the Attorney General's probe of attorneys who may be improperly receiving pensions from various school districts throughout the state.  

* According to the Daily News, a 28 year old Long Islander has sued his former employer, a French financial firm, for sexual orientation discrimination, alleging that -- although he is heterosexual and married -- he was terminated due to being a vegitarian because his bosses perceived it as a homosexual trait.    

A Riverhead family has filed a lawsuit against a real estate developer for knowingly selling a defective home.  (here).  According to the suit, although the home was a new construction, there were cracks in the foundation, resulting in severe water leaks.  

* Former state Senator Carol Berman has settled her lawsuit against the LIRR, alleging that she broke her ankle after falling into an overly-wide gap, for $150,000.  (here). 

* An attorney has been suspended from practice for soliciting a sexual act from a minor (who, in reality, was an undercover police officer) through the internet.  Their chosen rondevous: the Ronkonkoma train station. (here). 

* Two of President Bush's lame-duck pardons were Long Island real estate developers convicted of fraud. (here). 


* Blogger Eugene Volokh asks, rhetorically, whether the Nassau County DA's policy of prohibiting hand gun ownership by Assistant district attorneys violates N.Y. Labor Law 201-d, which prohibits discrimination based on recreational activities (i.e. non-profit generating activities engaged in off-hours, off-premises, and not involving the employer's property). (here). 

* Above The Law's Lawsuit of the Day, January 8, 2009, was a divorce case in Long Island where a Long Island man has sought the return of the kidney he donated to his ex-wife (or 1.5 million in compensation).  The piece's author, Elie Mystal, comments, "If you grew up on Long Island, home of Lorena Bobbit, this story makes perfect sense." (here). 

1 comment:

  1. http://www.patchoguesredevelopment.wordpress.comOctober 23, 2009 at 9:46 PM

    The Village of Patchogue created a fake police department, corrupting many aspects of Government in order to undermine the minority population of Patchogue and drive the immigrants out. The corruption of the Village of Patchogue’s constabulary coincides with its redevelopment. The “shock and awe” of an unlawful illegally armed police force was particularly effective in pushing undesirables out the village’s boundaries. The threat of force coerced residents to give up their rights, which would have been protected under New York State and Suffolk County laws. Residents were faced with fines, arrests, unwarranted inspections, harassment, and threats of assault with illegal firearms.

    The Facts: Suffolk County’s Failure to Protect Village of Patchgoue residents.

    Suffolk County Officials Knew That The Incorporated Village of Patchogue Was Running An Unlawful Policing Department in The Form of Office of The Village Constables and Did Nothing About It.

    Sargent Santa Maria of the Suffolk County Police Department was present at the 1994 enactment of Local Law #9, Chapter 7, of the Village of Patchogue Code, which falsely and deceptively passed a law that allowed the Village of Patchogue policing power. Suffolk County Police Department’s presence condones this illegal act. Furthermore, Suffolk County P.D. worked in conjunction with the Village of Patchogue Constables for years, even though they had knowledge of their illegal power and were duty-bound to shut the organization down and arrest those village employees who were impersonating officers. Suffolk County allowed the Village of Patchogue Constables to enter crime scenes and to piggy back upon their official privileged access. Furthermore, Suffolk P.D. shared information with Village of Patchogue Constables. Upon investigation, evidence may emerge, that the corruption of the Village of Patchogue departments started the corrupting of the Suffolk County P.D..

    Suffolk County P.D. may have rewarded its auxiliary police force members with opportunities to participate in the illegal Village of Patchogue police force. Many of the Village’s Constables were ex Suffolk P.D. auxiliary police, which in the late 1990’s Suffolk County’s Sherriff’s office trained. This training, although illegal, further added to the illusion of the Village’s policing power was legitimate. Also there was a sharing of personnel, for example, “fake” Constable, Al Costello– between the Suffolk County D.A.’s office and the Village Constables. This professional collusion caused the Suffolk P.D to turn a blind eye, to a policing entity that Suffolk PD. knew was illegal, dangerous and discriminatory. When complaints were made to Suffolk District attorneys office about Patchogue’s illegal police force, Darryl Burger investigating for the D.A.’s office said “we can’t tell it the constables are legal” or legal ” our staff lacks the resources to make this determination.” Mr. Burger may have made this statement to conceal wrongdoing on the part of the Village of Patchogue police force. Other members of the D.A.s office then made improper determinations in order to for Suffolk County P.D. and the District Attorney’ office to avoid and obscure investigating a criminal matter that Suffolk County Police and the DA’s office were involved in.