ELDRED, NY — The saga of Highland's suspended constabulary continues, as constable Marc Anthony has filed a lawsuit against town supervisor Jeff Haas, town board member Kaitlin Haas and the …
ELDRED, NY — The saga of Highland's suspended constabulary continues, as constable Marc Anthony has filed a lawsuit against town supervisor Jeff Haas, town board member Kaitlin Haas and the Highland Town Board. Anthony's complaint alleges an improper suspension process, damages to his reputation and racial discrimination.
Highland suspended its constables force on April 12, 2022, citing the need to investigate "[v]arious instances" alleged against the force. (See below for a timeline of the town board's investigation.)
Anthony alleged several improprieties in the town board's actions.
The town board suspended the constable force by fiat, and not by special referendum as required by law, according to Anthony. The town did not allow Anthony a pre-suspension hearing or formally terminate him, though Anthony reports that Jeff Haas sent him a letter requesting he return his uniform and other issued equipment on August 26, 2022.
"In violating the Town Law, the Town of Highland made it impossible for Plaintiff to have a public trial, or Article 75 proceeding, or the opportunity to appeal said decision to the Supreme Court within 30 days, had the decision been against Plaintiff," reads the complaint.
The complaint additionally alleges actions from the town board and certain members thereof directed at him personally.
The Sullivan County Democrat on August 19, 2022 published an article based on an unredacted report from the town's constable committee. The article named Anthony as the subject of the report's allegations.
Anthony alleges in his complaint that town board member Kaitlin Haas was responsible for the leak. The Democrat article does not identify the source of the unredacted report; Anthony claims, "upon information and belief," that Kaitlin Haas provided that information.
"[Anthony] lost his position for the Town of Highland as a result of these untrue, published allegations, has suffered a loss of reputation and has been denied a permanent position on any other town police force within Sullivan County as a result of these allegations," reads the complaint.
"Town of Highland and Ms. Haas commented and published only Plaintiff's alleged transgressions, while ignoring and/or ‘covering up’ many proven violations of law and policy committed by other members of the Town of Highland Constabulary. Upon information and belief, this is because Plaintiff was the sole person of color employed by the Constabulary," the complaint continues.
Anthony is seeking back pay from April 12, damages for defamation no less than $100,000, and damages for racial discrimination no less than $50,000.
The Highland Town Board announced the lawsuit following an executive session at the board meeting on Wednesday, March 15.
The board authorized a resolution to retain attorney for the town Michael Davidoff, Esq. to represent and defend the town at a rate of $225 per hour and reimbursement of any related expense. The board unanimously adopted the resolution with no discussion. According to the resolution, a copy of the complaint has been forwarded to the town insurance company.
Anthony is represented by Stacey Van Malden, Esq., Goldberger & Dubin, P.C. of New York City.
April 12, 2022: Highland Town Board passes a resolution suspending the activities of the town constables, while "conducting an investigation of [reported] various incidences."
May 31, 2022: The Highland Town Board constables committee creates a report detailing its investigations and recommendations.
July 18, 2022: The town publically releases a redacted copy of the constable committee's report, following a FOIL request from the River Reporter.
August 9, 2022: The Highland Town Board accepts the resignations of chief constable Mike Walton and patrol constable Steve Milisauskas.
August 19, 2022: The Sullivan County Democrat publishes an article reporting on a leaked, unredacted copy of the constable committee's report.
August 26, 2022: Town of Highland Supervisor Jeff Haas sends constable Marc Anthony a letter requesting he return his uniform and other town issues equipment, according to Anthony.
November 8, 2022: The 2023 budget adopted by the Highland town board contains a $100,000 contract expense for coverage from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department.
December 12, 2022: The Highland Town Board agrees to enter into an agreement with the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department.
February 13, 2023: Marc Anthony files a complaint against Jeff Haas, Kaitlin Haas and the Highland Town Board.
March 15, 2023: The Highland Town Board authorizes a resolution to retain attorney for the town Michael Davidoff to represent and defend the town.
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