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Jun 12, 2012 5:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Kiernan Suspension Is Extended By Two Months

Jun 13, 2012 11:38 AM

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday extended the suspension of Town Police Lieutenant James Kiernan for an additional two months, while they address dozens of disciplinary charges leveled against him.

The Town Board also appointed a hearing officer, Roger Maher, to hear the charges and disciplinary case against Lt. Kiernan and make a recommendation to the Town Board on how—or whether—to punish the lieutenant, who is accused by Town Police Chief William Wilson of misconduct while leading the town’s Street Crime Unit.

The board also agreed to retain the services of New York City law firm Bracewell & Giuliani to assist the town attorney’s office with the hearing procedure. A maximum of $50,000 will be spent on the proceedings.

All five board members voted to extend the suspension, which is without pay but allows Lt. Kiernan to use unused sick and vacation days and continue receiving his paychecks and health benefits during the suspension period.

The board initially suspended the 15-year veteran of the force on May 4 after Chief Wilson presented the board with 32 disciplinary charges against the lieutenant, stemming from his years at the head of the Town Police’s undercover drug investigation team. The charges revolve around the lieutenant’s oversight of the Street Crime Unit and his handling of the discovery that one of the unit’s officers, Eric Sickles, had become addicted to prescription narcotics.

Chief Wilson disbanded the Street Crime Unit in November.

In the weeks before the suspension, the Suffolk County district attorney’s office began an investigation of the department’s drug cases and seized reams of documents regarding internal investigations of Town Police personnel. The DA’s office subsequently ordered the release from prison of two men convicted of selling drugs because of problems surrounding the circumstances of their convictions after arrests by officers of the Street Crime Unit.

Lt. Kiernan himself requested that the evidence of his case be addressed through binding arbitration—in which the hearing officer’s decision on discipline would be the final word on his punishment—a choice the Town Police contracts allow. But because the binding arbitration clause of police contracts is the subject of a lawsuit in another municipality, the Town Board opted to appoint a hearing officer instead. The officer will make recommendations but leave the decision of the ultimate disposition of Lt. Kiernan’s case to the board.

Lt. Kiernan’s attorney, Ray Perini, said that he was not surprised that the board extended his client’s suspension and would expect that they will continue it until the case is resolved. He said it is possible that the hearing process could be completed within 65 days, as he hopes, but that such a time frame would be quick for such hearings.

“There is going to be discovery that we’re going to demand, and that could be litigated,” he said of information on the charges against his client that he plans to insist on seeing and may require interim arguments before the hearing officer. “It’s a whole procedural process that is going to eat up a lot of time. But it could be done.”

Mr. Maher is an arbiter for the New York State Department of Labor. “I’ve been told he’s a very fair guy,” Mr. Perini said.

Bracewell & Giuliani, whose partners include former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, will be paid $645 per hour by the town for its services.

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It would be smart for the editors of 27East to allow no comments on this story.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 12, 12 5:48 PM
why is that?
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on Jun 12, 12 6:22 PM
Why? Are you out of popcorn?
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Jun 12, 12 7:51 PM
3 members liked this comment
EastEnd68 now wants to censor us and the 1st Amendment. He or she must be a friend of Lt. Kiernan. Comments are part of the American way. I don't know the man, therefore, I can not say anything positive or negative about his situation. Only time will tell if he is innocent or guilty of any charges. Let the Suffolk D. A. look at all the files that were taken from Town Hall and make that determination.
By bobalooey (45), East Quogue on Jun 12, 12 8:24 PM
the good the bad the ugly
By exsupt (3), southampton on Jun 12, 12 8:45 PM
So we're paying this guy full check and benefits NOT to work? Genius.
By littleplains (305), olde england on Jun 12, 12 11:16 PM
2 members liked this comment
Doc put me "on the bench" for at least a week.

Good thing I have AFLAC, and Combined...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jun 13, 12 8:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
All I can say is that when I can an issue, he took steps to help the situation with professionalization
By Summer Resident (251), Manhattan on Jun 12, 12 11:49 PM
In my opinion, a person is innocent until proven guilty. Why condemn
when we do not know all the facts? I fully support our Southampton Police Dept.
and yes, all have shown professionalism.
By East Ender (64), Southampton on Jun 13, 12 6:22 AM
If Kiernan is out for 2 more months, who is handling the disposal in Tiana Bay of confiscated guns? You know, if a friend of the Dept gets caught w/ unregistered guns they were splashed by Kiernan. What is being done with these guns now?
By G (342), Southampton on Jun 13, 12 7:05 AM
Again I ask the editor to stop these terrible comments
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 13, 12 7:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
Hey East End, If you don't like the comments then don't read them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Go find yourself a good book.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Jun 13, 12 8:39 AM
3 members liked this comment
May I recommed "A People's History of the United States", by Howard Zinn?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jun 13, 12 8:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
She said avoid book.
By jams (129), hampton bays on Jun 13, 12 10:24 PM
She said a good book.
By jams (129), hampton bays on Jun 13, 12 10:25 PM
Suspension without pay or health insurance sounds more resonable!!
By johnnyhampton (82), Southampton on Jun 13, 12 8:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I don't know Lt. Kiernan, but I do think it's unfair to give negative comments. He hasn't been found guilty of anything, yet people are mad because he is using sick time, while suspended. Give me a break. That's the problem with our society, freedom of speech, doesn't mean you should trash someone's reputation.
By peggydineen (2), southampton on Jun 13, 12 10:02 AM
Well part of the reason people are assuming guilt - and are mad is that two people who were convincted on drug charges are now free and walking around our communities. One of them even admitted to having the drugs - but because of Lt. Kiernan, he is no longer in prison.

Also, there has to be SOME level of truth to the charges lodged against him - you don't get suspended (twice in a row) by all members of the Town Board if you are innocent. They have to have legitimate grounds to suspend ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 12 10:16 AM
Nature: Where do you get your logic from? "assuming guilt"..."because of Lt Kiernan"...."some truth to the charges".... You've already convicted him without hearing all the facts, or his side. Warped logic at the very least.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Jun 13, 12 10:26 AM
Nature, here is the problem with your statment, yes those convictions were vacated, but the DA has not named the officer that they are investigating. Secondly...you don't even know what the charges are against him...I've yet to see them detailed, do you have a source that you can share?
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Jun 13, 12 11:30 AM
Many questions still need to be answered. But it is fact that then Sgt. Kiernan was the head of the Street Crime Unit who had convictions overturned by the Suffolk DA. There is an outstanding lawsuit by one of the released drug dealers, Kiernan is one of the officers named. The taxpayers may be on the hook for millions if malfeasance occurred under Kiernan's watch.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Jun 13, 12 8:00 PM
Thanks crusader for lending some intelligence and a touch of investigation into this thread - some people really are just lazy.

Tennyson and pstevens - if the Lt. has done NOTHING wrong - why would ALL 5 board members (across party lines) suspend him TWICE? They would have a serious lawsuit against them if this guy was completely innocent. It may not have been proven in a court of law - but that's where we are headed. The DA doesn't overturn convictions every day (in fact - it nearly ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 12 8:15 PM
Nature: So according to you, the judge and the jury, he's guilty without a trial of his peers. I'm not God so I'll let the system play out. I guess NO ONE is innocent if they are charged with a crime under your system.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Jun 14, 12 11:38 AM
No - I never said he was guilty of everything nor did I even say he was guilty of a CRIME. I'm saying he is clearly guilty of something or the TB wouldn't stick their neck out like that (in unison) and the DA surely wouldn't do something as unprecendented as opening the doors of the jail cells and telling the guys to get out of there.

Charges have been lodged against him - but we don't know the full nature of them nor how many are legitimately criminal. I'm just saying it's clear that ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jun 14, 12 12:27 PM
Nature: Naive to not believe some one is guilty as charged simply because he's being "investigated" for what he may have done wrong. There may be other motives, political etc, involved which we simply don't know about. Again, I'll allow the system to play out, this story, before I make any judgements.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Jun 14, 12 1:17 PM
I never said he didnt do anything wrong I merely pointed out that nature did not kow what he was being charged with and that we do not know which officer is being investigated.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Jun 14, 12 3:15 PM
wow, tennyson, you're a real prince. so the guy was involved in accusing or punishing people who didn't deserve it, then is being suspended by a board, and HE doesn't deserve it, and now NATURE is accusing kiernan of something and he doesnt deserve it, and now it seems like you're attacking "nature" and HE doesnt deserve it. it's the southampton circle of life. but you, being a prince, and letting god decide everything, sit there and don't judge anyone.
By milkdilk (49), Southampton on Jun 23, 12 8:26 AM
Innocent until proven guilty, agreed. But 32 charges?? Good luck with that. Dead man walking.
By banina81 (11), Sag Harbor on Jun 13, 12 12:10 PM
to babaina81:

I don't think that the number of counts is an indication of guilt, it merely reflects the s.o.p. in law enforcement of alleging everything possible connected with a criminal act as a separate count and then using all of the charges except the real one as bargaining chips in cutting a plea bargain.

It is ironic, though, that Kiernan is being hoist by his own petard by a procedure that he employed himself throughout his law enforcement career.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 13, 12 12:35 PM
2 members liked this comment
...and when they plea down to said charges, he'll be a dead man walking. There isn't a chance he keeps his post when he is found to have broken any of the dept.'s rules and procedures. Especially as a Lieutenant.
By banina81 (11), Sag Harbor on Jun 14, 12 11:27 AM
Why is it that labor attorney Vincent Toomey is not handling this and the taxpayers are on the hook for $645/hr. to hire Bracewell & Giuliani?
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on Jun 13, 12 2:05 PM
2 members liked this comment
Something sounds political and fishy. Toomey stepping out and not handling it. Here we go again. Do all officers who are suspended get to keep a pay check and benefits. Sounds like a new policy for the chosen few. What happened to Town law that has been beating officers over the head by the old regime for the past 40-years. Always made an innocent man confess to a crime he did not commit. Good riddens Tenaglia, arrogant bully ! Lower ur pants too !
By carson (79), southampton on Jun 13, 12 10:05 PM
Please don't be so hard on EE68. He is just doing what any good County Employee would do..... He has a book - I believe it's title is A Legislatures Aides Guide to posting yourself drunk in FinnMcCloseds on YouTube. Great post too!
By G (342), Southampton on Jun 14, 12 9:32 AM
FYI-never a county, state, or local gov't employee
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 14, 12 11:21 AM
Friend of the subject of the article? It does suck to see people posting negative comments about a friend. Just dont look.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Jun 14, 12 3:13 PM
That "friend" could end up costing the town of Southampton and its taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jun 15, 12 8:37 AM
Your friend has already cost the town 100k to fight these charges. Now they are going to spend another fortune defending themselves against released felons. Who was in charge of the shtpd when this all happened? Chief Overton. Lets take his pension away.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jun 17, 12 12:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thats right- and why are the costs that are paid by the taxpayers by the PD breaking the law never used in contract talks- why do we end up paying for their malfesiance? And Overton was useless along with alot of his command staff- and they are at the top of the law enfarcement pay scales
By bayarea (46), hampton bays on Jun 22, 12 10:12 AM
Overton's pension is not an issue-he earned that pension with his years of deicated service
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 22, 12 1:25 PM