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Mar 7, 2014 4:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Police Officer Remains Suspended Without Pay

Mar 11, 2014 11:16 AM

The Westhampton Beach Village Police officer suspended without pay for 30 days in late January, pending the findings of a disciplinary hearing, will likely remain off the department’s payroll until at least April, officials confirmed this week.

Officer Joseph Pesapane, 30, was arrested by Suffolk County Police in Port Jefferson on September 29, 2013, and charged with fourth-degree stalking, a misdemeanor, after authorities said he “made several phone calls and sent over 20 text messages” to an unnamed individual. Suffolk Police would not comment further on the incident, which they described as a “domestic dispute,” in order to protect the victim.

On January 29, Westhampton Beach Village Board members voted to suspend the officer—whom they have refused to identify by name, but multiple sources have confirmed as Mr. Pesapane—for 30 days without pay, as permitted by state law. They also scheduled a disciplinary hearing for February 6 and hired attorney Steven Kasarda to act as the hearing officer. The 30-day suspension ended on March 1.

But Village Clerk/Treasurer Elizabeth Lindtvit said on Friday that Mr. Pesapane remains suspended without pay, despite the passage of the 30 calendar days, as part of an agreement reached between the village and his attorney, Rey Mauro. Richard Zuckerman, the village’s labor attorney, also confirmed on Friday that the officer in question, whom he also declined to name, remains suspended without pay, and that last month’s disciplinary hearing was adjourned and rescheduled for Tuesday, April 1.

Mr. Zuckerman said he could not comment on why the first hearing was adjourned, or on any other agreement between the village and the police officer. Speaking generally about such cases, Mr. Zuckerman said adjournments are typically granted when an employee facing a disciplinary charge is unwilling or unable to attend the scheduled hearing. “In that situation, the employer’s attorney will often agree to the request in exchange for an agreement that keeps the employee off the payroll for a period of time that is longer than the default period found in the law,” he explained.

Under state law, public employees are only permitted to be suspended without pay for 30 days, even if the disciplinary matter remains unresolved.

Mr. Mauro did not return calls seeking comment this week.

When reached on Friday, Mr. Pesapane, who has been employed by the village since 2006 and paid $127,285 in 2013, said he had been directed by his attorney to refrain from commenting on his arrest. He is due back in 1st District Court in Central Islip on Tuesday, March 18, regarding the stalking charge.

Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller also declined to comment on the situation, noting that state law prohibits him from discussing personnel matters. Village Board members have not explained why they did not suspend Mr. Pesapane until four months after his arrest last fall.

Mr. Teller also declined to say how many charges Mr. Pesapane is potentially facing.

The current suspension marks the officer’s fourth during his tenure with the police department; he was suspended three times prior during an investigation into an incident involving another officer’s missing handgun.

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Seriously, 4 suspensions. Can we have the 4 months salary back when he hid the charges? It is especially frustrating to hear (and see) the waste at village hall during these tough financial times.
By Beached Andy (3), Westhampton on Mar 7, 14 6:21 PM
Bad cop it is time to fire him.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 7, 14 7:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
> "several phone calls and sent over 20 text messages"

Over what period of time?

If Suffolk Police have labeled this as a “domestic dispute,” it sounds like they must have been living together at one point -- this really doesn't seem like "stalking."
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 7, 14 11:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
He has a bright future working for the Quogue Police Dept. They only take flunkies and rejects.
By G (342), Southampton on Mar 9, 14 1:20 PM
2 members liked this comment
Agree w/ G172. An incident in E.Q. years ago involved picking up a car from impound and playing a game of hide and seek for five days with the person who was imprisoned for driving said car. They moved the person three times. Holy Moly! For a license snafu? C'mon, guys.
By .shroom (2), EastHampton on Mar 10, 14 12:28 PM
Some of the local PD's might read about what happened in Hampton Florida. WHB, EHV & Quogue are on the same course and it's only a matter of time till the same happens to them.
By G (342), Southampton on Mar 10, 14 5:20 PM
I read and I don't think that will ever happen. The whole town of Hampton Florida may be dissolved, not just its police department. So your comparison is a little off.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 11, 14 2:29 PM
It could happen pstevens. We have corrupt cops, questionable accounting, overpaid employees, and less than open government. Have a read here in archived articles and you will find all that & more.
By G (342), Southampton on Mar 12, 14 7:07 AM
1 member liked this comment