SEPTEMBER 27, 2016
More than 21 months ago, the Village Board and Village Attorney received a report alleging that a Village employee had utilized two background‑search firms (Transunion/TLO and Lexis Nexis) with one of the firms’ extensive, law-enforcement databases accessed under the pretense of the employee being the Village’s “Chief of Police”. In the latter case, this enabled the employee to undertake the most invasive searches of individuals’ backgrounds. The searches that were made were not for a legitimate governmental purpose or work-related in any way. Additionally, families, friends and associates of certain individuals were also searched without any lawful or legitimate purpose, including certain Village-Board candidates, sitting Village Trustees and Village employees.
At that time, the Village’s investigation of the searches was taken over by the then-Village Attorney. Approximately two weeks later, the employee in question was separated from service.
Not receiving any further information concerning the extent of these searches and being concerned about the Village’s legal obligations to address these matters, in April 2015, when Mayor Maura P. Spery’s administration took over, the Board engaged the services of two forensic‑investigation companies, one of which focused on computer and IT‑related matters and the other on finance-related matters. The two finance-related reports were completed by Cramer CPA, P.C. in December 2015 and January 2016, and the results of each have been forwarded to appropriate external agencies, including the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Comptroller’s Office. The determinations in these reports included a clear pattern of employees’ theft of services and other financial improprieties.
Due to the complexities of the IT-related information that was uncovered during the nearly 18-month inquiry, the IT-forensic report that was conducted by Radius Investigations was recently finalized. This latest report now enables the Village Board, with the advice and guidance of its attorney, to comply with both federal and state laws requiring the Village to notify in writing all individuals who may have been impacted by these illegal and impermissible searches.
Some of the targets of these illegal searches included elected Village officials, Village employees and Village residents. The former employee who conducted these searches did so using computers connected to both the Village of Mastic Beach and the Village of Northport. Consequently, the Village yesterday mailed out written notices to nearly 500 individuals in accord with the Village’s statutory obligations, including among others New York State Technology Law, Section 208 and New York State General Business Law, Section 899-aa.
Accordingly, the Mastic Beach Village Board, through its attorney, has turned over the IT-forensic investigation report and related information to various state agencies, including the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
Mayor Maura P. Spery stated, “There have been loud cries over the past 18 months about the nature of the Village’s IT investigation and whether it was even needed. It has been labeled by detractors as merely a ‘witch hunt’. Certainly, the results of the reports the Village has received prove otherwise and make unequivocally clear the serious transgressions that occurred, including the digital violation of individual privacy and confidentiality.” Mayor Spery concluded, “The residents of Mastic Beach Village need to know my administration continues to take very seriously our obligations to provide transparency and accountability to our constituents.”
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SEPTEMBER 27, 2016
With the release of the Village’s IT-forensic investigation findings, and after more than 21 months of public vitriol leveled against former Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa and me, we have been fully vindicated.
During the past 21 months, Mr. Summa and I have been publicly accused of seeking to destroy families, committing heinous crimes and abusing our governmental power. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Make no mistake, this is an extremely dark day in the Village of Mastic Beach. Mine and Mr. Summa’s commitment to transparency and accountability has come at a tremendous personal cost not just to us but to our families and friends, many of whom were the subjects of these illegal and invasive searches. Nonetheless, we undertook our elected positions with an unyielding commitment that no individual should ever be afraid of her/his government or fear retribution for expressing one’s fundamental Constitutional right of free expression, even if that expression opposes the current political majority’s viewpoint. I continue to have faith in our system of government and now look to our law-enforcement agencies to hold accountable those who shredded the Constitutional rights of the hundreds and hundreds of innocent victims whose backgrounds were illegally searched and the digital invasion they suffered. Justice demands nothing less.