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Oct 30, 2018 4:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Police Chief's Suit Against East Hampton Village Dismissed

Former East Hampton Village Chief of Police Jerry Larsen.   PRESS FILE
Oct 30, 2018 4:49 PM

A lawsuit filed by a former police chief against East Hampton Village has been dismissed by a judge, who cited the statute of limitations.

Former East Hampton Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen—who was running a private security business called Protec Services Inc. while employed by the village—sued the village in 2017 alleging that several officials had attempted to “stifle competition” and violated the village’s own ethics code.

The case was dismissed at the Central Islip Courthouse in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York on September 24. According to court transcripts, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bianco granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, saying the lawsuit had been filed after the deadline.

“I believe based upon the face of the complaint that this is clearly time barred,” Judge Bianco said, according to a transcript of his oral decision.

Mr. Larsen claimed to have been running the security company, which was founded in 2005, with approval from village officials until 2009, when his business picked up a number of accounts that had formerly belonged to SCAN Security, which Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. had a working relationship with as a salesman.

At that time, the suit said, Mr. Larsen was told by village officials to cut back his involvement with Protec, and that he could no longer do business within the village or hire village employees. Mr. Larsen’s complaint stated that Mr. Rickenbach, a former Village Police officer, also was managing plumbing, pool maintenance and landscaping work for private residences, and that Richard Lawler, a Village Board member and the police commissioner, was doing similar work.

Mr. Larsen’s attorney, James Wick of Farrell Fritz P.C., on Tuesday noted that the court had not addressed the merits of the case.

Judge Bianco did grant Mr. Larsen and his attorney the opportunity to plead additional facts to potentially overcome the September ruling. However, Mr. Wicks said Mr. Larsen decided not to pursue an appeal due to the expense that would entail.

“The case achieved its goal of transparency on the issues,” Mr. Wicks said. “Mr. Larsen felt that he accomplished what he wanted to.”

“The case was dismissed, and the village will continue to do business as usual,” Rebecca Molinaro Hansen, the East Hampton Village administrator, said on Tuesday. “The village is extremely pleased that the court agreed that Mr. Larsen’s complaint was time barred and that he cannot legitimately file a lawsuit this late in the process.”

Mr. Larsen served as an East Hampton Village police officer for 33 years, and as police chief for 14 years. He retired from the police chief’s position in January 2017 and filed the lawsuit on August 22, 2017. At the time, Mr. Larsen was running for a seat on the East Hampton Town Board.

According to Ms. Hansen, the cost of defending the suit was covered by the village’s insurance policy and at this time, Ms. Hansen doesn’t have the cost of the lawsuit. However, the village had to spend additional money to defend a second lawsuit brought by Mr. Larsen, involving the Freedom of Information Law and a charge that the village was withholding documents about the private employment of public workers. That lawsuit, which was also dismissed, cost the village $14,791.

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