Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The World Was His Oyster (Bay)

The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department has disbarred a former public official

From in or about 1992 through 2017, the respondent held various positions in the Town of Oyster Bay, as follows: in or about March 1992, the respondent was hired as an Assistant Town Attorney; in or around 1994, he was promoted to Deputy Town Attorney; from 1998 through 2002, he served as special counsel to the Town Supervisor; in or around October 2002 through 2010, he was appointed as Deputy Town Supervisor; from 2010 until his resignation in January 2017, he held the position of Town Attorney while continuing to perform the functions of the Deputy Town Supervisor.

Town contracts

During his tenure as an employee with the Town, the respondent, together with others, tailored RFPs to give an advantage to predetermined service providers who were typically political contributors. One such individual was Harendrah Singh, a concessionaire with the Town who ran concessions at the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course (hereinafter the golf course) and Tobay Beach. Between 1998, when Singh was awarded his first RFP, through 2008, the respondent would meet with Singh so that Singh could assist in tailoring RFPs for the golf course and Tobay Beach. As a result, Singh obtained an advantage over others in the RFP process.

In or about 2005, in connection with an RFP that Singh was proposing for Tobay Beach, the respondent consulted with the Town’s outside counsel who advised him that meeting with Singh prospectively to draft RFPs was inappropriate. Notwithstanding, the respondent thereafter continued to meet with Singh to tailor RFPs based on Singh’s requests.

In 2008, Singh was granted an RFP to extend the length of Singh’s contract to 40 years for Tobay Beach and 50 years for the golf course. No other vendor or contractor had similar terms.

The Town's finances were placed at risk in the dealings with Singh.

Sanction

Notwithstanding the mitigation advanced, we find that the respondent committed serious misconduct by engaging in long-term corruptive practices as a public official for personal and professional benefit. Indeed, for years the respondent routinely consulted with Singh, who at the relevant times was vying for  government contracts, and did so to ensure Singh’s success in obtaining those contracts. By orchestrating indirect loan guarantees by the Town, the respondent assisted Singh in obtaining loans for millions of dollars, which he otherwise was unqualified to receive. In the process, the respondent jeopardized the financial well-being of the Town. In exchange, the respondent received thousands of dollars in bribes from Singh through free meals, transportation, and use of rental facilities. Finally, we find the fact that the respondent committed the misconduct while serving as a public official to be a significant aggravating factor, as such actions inflict substantial damage upon the public’s trust in the integrity of lawyers, government officials, and our system of governance.

Under the totality of the circumstances, we find that disbarment is warranted.

Newsday reported on civil litigation brought by the Town against Respondent. (Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2022/07/the-new-york-appellate-division-for-the-second-judicial-department-has-disbarred-a-former-public-official-sanction-notwiths.html

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