Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00
Michael Dolan Sr. was removed as a New Hyde Park volunteer firefighter on Tuesday April 2, according to his son, Michael Jr. The senior Dolan had been suspended nine months ago, after both Dolans were charged by the Nassau County district attorney’s office with stealing 65 Kidde smoke detectors from the department.
Third degree larceny charges against the two, filed in mid-July 2012, have since been dropped. Fire officials declined to comment on any aspect of the senior Dolan’s case.
The younger Dolan was said by an independent hearing officer to have had no knowledge of the removal of the smoke detectors and the department should take no action against him.
The senior Dolan also declined to comment, while Michael Jr. said “we’ll see them in court,” referring to New Hyde Park fire department officials. During a closed session of fire commissioners, the Dolans stood outside the boardroom, affirming their stance that they would appeal, before a decision had been made.
After the closed session, Board of Fire Commissioners Chairman Michael Bonura, standing next to Chief Brian Sherwood, said a ruling was made but did not confirm or deny if Dolan was ousted.
“We’re electing not to comment on anything (that) took place in the closed session,” Bonura said. “We’re not going to comment…not at this time. Maybe in the future, but not right now.”
To remove Dolan Sr. as a commissioner, the board would have to appeal to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature since the position is an elected post.
According to a letter obtained by the Illustrated News from Dolan’s attorney Michael T. Cornacchia, the accusations against the Dolans “does not, and cannot, justify the draconian measure of removal from the department.” However, independent hearing officer Walter P. Wagner suggested that Dolan Sr. be removed from the department as a volunteer.
The letter read that Wagner felt neither suspension nor removal from the department should be enacted on Dolan Jr. Wagner found that Dolan Jr. had no knowledge or suspicion that “the removal of the smoke detectors was unauthorized or improper.”
New Hyde Park legal counsel Joseph Frank of Sapienza and Frank in Massapequa, said he could not discuss the case because the nature of the letter would be part of a disciplinary process within the fire department.
“When disciplinary charges are brought against a member, the role of the board is to set up and hold disciplinary hearings,” Frank said. “It’s not really appropriate for us to comment on a person.”
The letter revealed that Wagner concluded Dolan Sr. took the smoke detectors from the department, which were donated by the Nassau County Fire Museum and that the behavior was “conduct unbecoming of a member of the department.”
Cornacchia argues in the letter that Dolan Sr.’s actions “can be differentiated” and that his conduct did not stop the fire department from executing its primary function, whether it is “the ability to fight fires, affect rescues or fulfill its primary reactive responsibilities.” Furthermore, Dolan’s legal counsel feels his conduct uncovered by Wagner “did not place in jeopardy, citizens and members of the department because he took a critical piece of fire-fighting, emergency or rescue equipment-he did not.”
Wagner did not return calls for comment. The Dolan’s appeal date has not yet been determined.