Two O’Connell & Aronowitz clients, both former public officials, recently received favorable decisions in separate matters in which each was charged with violations of various ethics laws and codes.
O’Connell & Aronowitz partner Jeffrey J. Sherrin, Esq., represented the former budget director of the New York State Theater Institute in hearings in front of the Commission on Public Integrity (“COPI,” now known as the Joint Commission on Public Ethics). The former director had been charged by the New York State Inspector General’s Office with six separate violations of the Public Officers Law for allegedly using his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for another person.
After administrative hearings in front of COPI, the Hearing Officer found that the Inspector General did not meet is burden of proving any violations of the Public Officers Law and, therefore, recommended no penalty: “As the record contains insufficient evidence of such violations, and a decided lack of proof that any actions taken by respondent were committed with the requisite intent, no violation is found.”
In a separate matter, associate attorney David E. Nardolillo, Esq., represented a former New Baltimore, New York, Town Councilman in an Article 78 proceeding to challenge a determination by the Greene County Board of Ethics, which censured the former Councilman for an alleged violation of the Town’s Code of Ethics.
On February 6, 2012, a Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Albany County ordered that the Board of Ethics’ censure be “vacated, annulled and declared of no legal force or effect.” The Court not only found that the Board of Ethics “failed to abide by its own procedures in determining the petitioner violated the Town Code of Ethics,” but also found that the “administrative record is devoid of legally sufficient proof to support” such a determination and censure. The Board of Ethics may appeal the decision to the Appellate Division, Third Department.
(Past results are reported to provide the reader with examples of the type of litigation in which we practice and does not and should not be construed to create an expectation of result in any other case as all cases are dependent upon their own unique fact situation and applicable law.)