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Oct 22, 2012 10:52 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Board Lifts Suspension Of Southampton Town Police Lieutenant, Settles Disciplinary Case

Oct 24, 2012 11:05 AM

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday night approved a settlement agreement in the disciplinary case against suspended Town Police Lieutenant James Kiernan that lifts his suspension and allows him to return to duty.

The board unanimously approved the terms of the settlement, which was negotiated by attorneys representing the town and Lt. Kiernan on Friday. Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst confirmed that the agreement will allow Lt. Kiernan to return to his job, effective immediately, but she and other Town Board members declined to comment on the details of the agreement after Tuesday’s vote.

“In the end, this is a complicated matter, and I will go by the advice of those who represented us here,” the supervisor said on Monday, before the board had ratified Friday’s negotiated agreement. “If this is their recommendation, and I don’t see anything flagrantly out of line, I will vote for it the way it is.”

Lt. Kiernan was suspended by the Town Board in May after Police Chief William Wilson filed more than 20 disciplinary charges against him, stemming from the lieutenant’s years at the head of the town’s undercover anti-drug team, the Street Crime Unit.

The town was represented in the proceedings against Lt. Kiernan by Sokoloff & Stern, a Westbury law firm hired especially to handle the Kiernan case. Lt. Kiernan, a 15-year veteran of the Town Police force, was represented by Ray Perini, an attorney for the Town Police Department’s Superior Officer’s Association.

Mr. Perini also declined to discuss the details of the settlement agreement earlier this week.

Chief Wilson promoted Lt. Kiernan from sergeant just one year ago, but only a few months later the chief disbanded the Street Crime Unit and shortly afterward placed Lt. Kiernan on forced leave. The chief presented the Town Board with more than 20 disciplinary charges against the lieutenant. The charges revolved around the lieutenant’s oversight of the Street Crime Unit—in particular, the discovery that one of the unit’s officers, Eric Sickles, had become addicted to prescription narcotics, yet remained on active duty with the undercover unit, it was later revealed.

In the months that followed, the unit’s past investigations became the focus of an investigation by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office that included the seizing of boxes filled with years’ worth of police department internal investigation documents, and the release from prison of two convicted felons whose cases the D.A.’s office said were left in doubt by the actions of some officers in the Street Crime Unit.

Ms. Throne-Holst said that while the settlement approved by the town this week puts to bed its disciplinary proceedings against Lt. Kiernan, she noted that the D.A.’s investigation is ongoing. The town has hired the New York City law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani to represent the town and the police department in any inquiries by the D.A.’s investigators.

In July, the Town Board suspended Officer Sickles. Less than a week later, another convicted felon, serving time in prison, filed a lawsuit against the police department, and Officer Sickles, Lieutenant Kiernan and another former Town Police officer specifically, accusing them of having planted evidence, falsifying police reports and lying under oath. The suit is pending.

The Town Board had appointed a hearing officer to oversee the trial of the charges against Lt. Kiernan. Friday was the second day the attorneys for the two sides met to begin hearings and depositions when the agreement was reached.

Lt. Kiernan’s suspension by the town was without pay, but he has been sacrificing unused vacation and sick time to continue receiving his paycheck and health insurance benefits throughout the six months he has been out of uniform.

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Bummer. Now he has to go back to work which leaves less time for his 2 or 3 side gigs.
By littleplains (305), olde england on Oct 23, 12 9:39 AM
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on Oct 24, 12 1:41 AM
The Lt. is back to work after all this, and there is no comment from the Supervisor, the Town Board, or Chief Wilson?

What a tempest in a teapot this has been!

Who do all these people work for, and why do the back room "behind closed doors" deals keep happening in Southampton Town?

Shameful lack of transparency in what OUR employees (all of them) have done here IMO.

Absolutely shameful . . .

PS -- How much money was spent in the aggregate by all "sides" ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 24, 12 7:50 AM
Why would the board consider letting this guy back on the force? He had over 20 complaints by his superior officer. The DA has let two convicted drug dealers leave prison because of the officers actions.The town has spent over 50 k too defend against lawsuits from the wrongfully convicted drug dealers, because of these officers alleged actions. Not too mention the settlement could be in the millions too settle these suits. This guy and the actions of the town gives cops a bad name. It's time the ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 24, 12 8:00 AM
3 members liked this comment
perhaps because the Chief was lying in the first place. making false charges recklessly. Apparently when it came time for him to give his testimony he backed down instead of purger himself and tried to offer him two deals that were turned down flat. The one cop may have become addicted to drugs, but Lt. Kiernan has always shown to be an upstanding cop who always tries to do the right thing even when others won't let him. I believe the Chief's days are numbered. GOOD RIDDANCE!!!
By motherof4boys (9), Hampton Bays on Oct 24, 12 1:51 PM
3 members liked this comment
Yeah it's all a pack of lies, thats why Kiernan plead guilty to an unknown amount of charges. How many convicts were really released from jail, since you know so much? I will give you four guesses.
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on Oct 24, 12 3:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
If it was all lies then Im sure Mr Perini would be standing on the steps of town hall stating that....instead no one is talking and saying exactly what transpired or what the charges were or what action the town board did take in the punishment of Lt Kiernan. Also the settlement was on the internal charges, I believe the article clearly states theres still an active investigation from the DA's office
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Oct 24, 12 3:42 PM
According to the article, the action taken "allows him to return to duty."

Will Lt. Kiernan actually be going back to work and in what capacity? Who will be his supervisor, and will he and Chief Wilson be interacting on a daily basis? What will his duties be? Will he be supervising others?

Is it not difficult to imagine the Lt. and Chief working together cordially after this? Are the Chief's days numbered, as was suggested above?

What a tangled web we weave . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 24, 12 3:58 PM
If the Chief was lying. Then why make a deal ? I wouldn't plead guilty for something I didn't do. These cops gotta be kidding. Get rid of the corruption and overpaid cops. Motherof4boys, sounds like ur real close to this LT. "Two Deals" -who would know that ? To obvious !!!
By carson (79), southampton on Oct 24, 12 9:12 PM
Its perjure not purger, and if the Chief was lying then I believe Lt. Kiernan would have been given his vacation time back, and received back pay for the time he was suspended. I didn’t see any mention of that in the article. Just that a deal was made that allowed the Lt. to return to duty. Now if I had been cleared of all charges, I would be telling anyone who would listen. I would be asking for public apologies...Your Lt. is curiously silent.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 30, 12 5:34 PM
Because all taxpayers need to overpay for all these useless P O's .....
He needs to put in more time for his tax free pension and benefits.......
By patrickstar (67), hampton bays on Oct 24, 12 8:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
Kiernan is charged with twenty counts; thereafter is allowed to return to duty without penalty, and our elected officials conceal everything. These folks have the hides of elephants and their gonads as well. Doesn't their constituency have a right to know the turth? - - - Silly question.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 24, 12 4:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
No, with penalty !
By carson (79), southampton on Oct 24, 12 9:17 PM
What penalty would that be, carson?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 25, 12 9:01 AM
He was on unpaid suspension. He used accrued vacation time to supplement that unpaid time. No mention that he was getting that vacation time back. No mention that the suspension would be removed from his employment record… so technically he was penalized.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 31, 12 3:52 PM
Well, the bit of credibility the SHPD had briefly - is now gone again, SHTPD has a dirty cop back on the force, Quogue has an officer with an order of protection against him - for leaving sexual notes in a womans home,
This will never end as long as Spota is DA. He was the PBA boy for WHB and would never prosecute a cop - no matter how dirty.
Meanwhile, our schools continue to be rife with drugs & our roadways are a disaster. Thanks to Tom & the SHTPD.
By G (342), Southampton on Oct 25, 12 6:34 AM
I really think taxpayers in Southampton should look at the police budget for 2013 it can be pulled up online. There are at least 8 officers making ove 200k with benefits, not too mention the over one million in overtime that will be allocated.
Point being that patrolman should feel lucky they have a job, and act as such. It is time the town board removes these troubled cops and sends a message that there will be zero tolerance for illegal acts. It's time too investigate what costs can be saved ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 25, 12 8:00 AM
The buck for this mess stops at the desks of the Supervisor and Town Board.

Cowering in silence behind the settlement's cloak of non-disclosure is BS. This is not a Halloween joke! This is OUR town, and our tax dollars hard at work?

Why did they agree to remain silent, and to terminate the disciplinary proceedings? To quote the Supervisor:

“If this is their recommendation, and I don’t see anything flagrantly out of line, I will vote for it the way it is.”

Should ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 25, 12 9:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
The reporter should fact check something - it states that the Chief promoted the Lieutenant just one year ago... Word is that the BOARD made the promotion against the Chiefs recommendation - very easy to check - just ask. I will bet no one in the media will do it.
By harrisw (27), sh on Oct 25, 12 5:42 PM
At the top of p. 2 here, it says Chief Wilson promoted Lt. Kiernan FYI:

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 25, 12 6:05 PM
harrisw4, your right the republicans promoted him too. Nuzzi has to go and this crap has to stop. Go back to Brookhaven or should I say Crook-haven. Malone should find a voice of his own. Always following Nuzzi. He is no better. Looks like this new Chief inherited more than he thought. Trying to clean up the last administrations many corrupt wrong doings. Bet he wishes he was back in the Village where the board appreciates it's workers in their village.
By carson (79), southampton on Oct 25, 12 8:34 PM
This whole thing reeks of political corruption. It is a shame that the Suffolk County DA's office is practicing selective enforcement of politicians these days. This is exactly the reason why we need term limits and cops should not be committeemen.
By vaquero (12), Watermill on Oct 25, 12 9:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Word from Kiernan's camp is that this fight ain't over. As if running a fund raiser to support his legal expenses under the ruse it was to benefit his police union, wasn't enough arrogance, it appears that even after his summer vacation Kiernan and his guy pal Nuzzi are still seeing red. Ignoring the town's legal council, Nuzzi is going to take a shot at Chief Wilson by trying to get rid of him under the town's 20 and out rule. The best part of this ingenious plan is that they will promote the ...more
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on Oct 27, 12 7:42 AM
Has Chief Wilson worked for the Town of Southampton for 20 years, I thought he worked for the Villiage of Southampton prior to accepting the job with the town.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 30, 12 5:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
It is evident that Lt. Kiernan was railroaded by the Chief in a political endeavor due to his challenging him for leadership of the town police force. Legally the town must have been advised that they were wrong in their actions and would be sued for millions and lose. Why won't the Southampton Town Board release the terms of the areement. Legally it should be foilable and someone, perhaps the Southampton Press, should foil the agreement so the public knows just how corrupt Chief Wilson and the ...more
By Walt (292), Southampton on Nov 6, 12 5:48 PM
The town board won't release it for the same reason you haven't heard Lt Kiernan spouting his innocence......hes not innocent. He took his discipline and now is back to work for his family and it was, I'm sure, a nice deal from the Republican party. Im sure the Republicans who he's been so loyal to for years will work out a way for him to be Chief, thats corrupt! Chief Wilson seemed to finally start getting rid of the corrupting cause by Overton and Tenaglia, hopefully the truth will eventually ...more
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Nov 7, 12 6:33 PM