Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 26 April 2013 00:00
The New Hyde Park Fire Department revealed on April 16 that $11,467 in taxpayer money was spent on disciplinary hearings of Michael Dolan Sr. and Jr. The two were accused last year of stealing Kidde smoke detectors from the firehouse.
Lakeville Estates Civic Association President Marianna Wohlgemuth sent a letter to the Fire Commissioner Richard Stein on April 8 asking to disclose costs involved with the hearing. The letter was co-signed by her sister, Marietta DiCamillo, president of the North Lakeville Civic Association.
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.
“We here at the civics have gotten a few questions about it because they’re curious about money being spent…because the charges had been dropped,” Wohlgemuth said. “I went to the departmental hearing in January…to this day I don’t know how many smoke detectors were reportedly involved. Kathleen Rice in her wisdom recognized that, and dismissed the charges.”
The New Hyde Park Fire Commissoners legal counsel Joseph Frank detailed the costs incurred from the hearings. According to Frank, costs can be attributed to a stenographer, prosecuting attorney Thomas Stock and independent hearing officer Walter Wagner, who were paid.
“That’s [the cost] based on however many hours it takes,” said Frank. “We can’t comment on things that are part of there personnel file. That’s why you’re not going to get point, counterpoint on other things that may be said. It’s just not going to happen.”
As to why Wohlgemuth inquired about the figure, Frank said it’s a matter of public record.
“It’s information the community is entitled to,” Frank stated. “They don’t need to give a reason why they want to know. It’s taxpayer money. [Marianna] sent a letter and asked a question. We responded.”
The Dolans declined to comment after a fire meeting last week. Dolan Sr. was recently removed as a volunteer firefighter. But he remains a fire commissioner, an elected post.
“I think the thing you have to keep in mind is the law gives volunteer firefighters certain due process hearing rights,” Frank said. “If charges are brought, they have the right to a hearing. In order to conduct a hearing, there are going to be expenses associated with it.”
The younger Dolan was said by Wagner to have had no knowledge of the removal of the smoke detectors and the department should take no action against him, according to a letter from the Dolans attorney, Michael T. Cornacchia.
“[Due process is] a part of our freedoms and rights as American citizens,” Frank said. “There’s a cost to giving people due process and it’s a part of operating government.”