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D.A.'s Government Corruption Bureau Seizes Southampton Police Records

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Colleen Reynolds   May 9, 2012 9:21 AM
May 9, 2012 11:56 AM

Detectives from Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota’s Government Corruption Bureau served a subpoena at Southampton Town Hall on Wednesday morning, seizing several boxes of Southampton Town Police Department records.

The subpoena was served “as part of an active investigation of the custodianship and status of police department records stored there,” Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the D.A., wrote in an email. “The town supervisor and the town attorney have been cooperative and accommodating during this ongoing investigation.”

Mr. Clifford’s remarks are the first time the D.A.’s office has acknowledged that it has been investigating the issue, though sources at Town Hall had confirmed such a probe months ago. Last week, Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato claimed the D.A.’s office was no longer interested in the documents.

The files have been stored at Town Hall for nearly a year, after Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst ordered their transfer from police headquarters in Hampton Bays in an effort to protect their integrity when allegations surfaced that police records were being destroyed and others were being removed from headquarters just prior to a change in police administration last spring, as Chief William Wilson Jr. took command of the department.

Former Police Captain Anthony Tenaglia, who has since retired, was in charge of the department at the time of the alleged document destruction.

It is not clear what the contents of the files are, but there is a possibility they could include criminal investigative files in addition to internal documents and police personnel records.

The subpoena comes about two weeks after Chief Wilson tried to have the documents returned to police headquarters, stating that he had been reluctant to accept responsibility for the documents until then, noting that they might have been tampered with.

His recent attempt to have the records returned was sparked by “investigative issues” that he said required his access to the records. He did not get the records at that time, however. Town officials said they wanted to copy the records first, and a date and time set up to do that was postponed when police investigators assigned to oversee the document reproduction had to turn their attention to a homicide investigation.

Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi, however, said the chief had full access to the records.

“I believe that the files should be returned to headquarters and it is my understanding that the chief has always had the ability to review those files whenever he saw fit,” Mr. Nuzzi said this week, before the subpoena was served. “I, along with others at Town Hall, have had that exact conversation with him directly on several different occasions.”

Detectives arrived at Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer’s office, where the records were stored in a double-vault, at about 9 a.m. Wednesday, although they had to wait until about 10 a.m. until Ms. Schermeyer arrived with the key.

Chief Wilson said he felt Ms. Throne-Holst did the right thing in directing the official movement of the records to Town Hall to protect their identity in light of the shredding and improper removal allegations. “Who knows what would have happened if she hadn’t taken that step,” he said. “But what bothers me is there should have been no actions going on at Southampton Town Police headquarters which necessitated the movement of those records to begin with.”

He said they should have been left untouched until he began his employment on May 16, and then, “if there were concerns about records, they could have been examined in an orderly fashion, which would have alleviated all this speculation and the appearance of impropriety.”

He noted that documents must be handled properly, and that police documents are particularly sensitive.

“Anytime there’s shredding and files leaving in cars, especially 48 hours before a new police chief or chief executive comes in, that opens up the door for tremendous amounts of scrutiny,” he said, citing the allegations. “Police departments operate on credibility, and when you open yourself up to scrutiny, or you do things that aren’t necessarily correct, it undermines the public trust in law enforcement—and that is inexcusable and unnecessary,” he said. “So at the end of the day, it’s very possible that once these files are looked at, they could be completely benign. Nobody knows. That’s the problem.”

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HMMMMMM
By sandydog21 (99), Southampton on May 9, 12 10:34 AM
Better run down to the store before they run out of whitewash...
By V.Tomanoku (599), southampton on May 9, 12 10:43 AM
soooo....riddle....how many detectives, at how much $$ an hour does it take to serve a subpoena?I count5 in this picture alone. I'm all for truth and justice, but aren't there more pressing issues that require the attention of at least 4 of these highly trained (and well paid) officers?
By voiceofreason (9), southampton on May 9, 12 11:09 AM
Politics at its worst
By EastEnd68 (840), Westhampton on May 9, 12 11:54 AM
Classic dog and pony show. Did they really need to have that many people to carry out a few boxes? And really, wearing those blue jackets - it's not like they were serving some sort of a high risk search warrant. Standard business attire would have worked just fine. And do you think it was a coincidence that a reporter just happened to be there?
By semaj (10), riverside on May 9, 12 12:00 PM
I'd imagine that the number of DA employees was needed to ensure compliance by the Town and to be witnesses that all of the boxes were being moved properly (chain of custody).

The Jackets... eh, it was raining and they are rain jackets/windbreakers so that's not a big deal.

The fact that 27 East was there to photograph - I can see that as their offices are up the road and the officers had to wait an hour for the key to arrive. What *IS* a little suspicious is that Newsday was ...more
By Nature (2611), Hampton Bays on May 9, 12 2:14 PM
Ditto. See comment below in reply to Wagoneer.

Democracy in action!

Let the heads roll!

PS -- No harm in DA giving ANY media source a heads up. What is the alternative? "Secrecy" and how would that tack have taken here?
By PBR (4366), Southampton on May 9, 12 3:28 PM
What a tangled web...
By Eliza (29), Westhampton Beach on May 9, 12 12:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ditto to Eliza, "What tangled web we weave."

See the other article updated this morning on the Fiasco which is Southampton Town politics:

http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/General-Interest-Southampton/423286/Southampton-Town-Board-Suspends-Police-Lieutenant-Pending-Charges?message=posted

You can't make this stuff up!
By PBR (4366), Southampton on May 9, 12 1:41 PM
Why call ahead to the press, and why send six officers to serve a subpoena? Politics at it's worst.
By Wagoneer (28), Southampton on May 9, 12 2:22 PM
Others might consider it a public service -- well done -- for a police agency to inform the media ahead of time when they are undertaking a search with a warrant.

If this search had been done in private without notice to the media, how would other commentators have said about that? "SECRECY!"

You can't have it both ways.

Six officers were probably justified to secure the search area and carry out the search. Suppose there had been many more boxes? They did not JUST serve ...more
By PBR (4366), Southampton on May 9, 12 2:41 PM
Yeah its kind of like when cops give the perk walk to ruin someones life.
By chief1 (1372), southampton on May 9, 12 5:00 PM
chief1 -- "perk" walk or "perp" walk?

Funny that "perk" applies to benefits, and that the cops here have incredible "perks" which are driving various municipal governments toward bankruptcy ????
By PBR (4366), Southampton on May 9, 12 6:48 PM
I can only hope that the DA left a few empty boxes at Town Hall for Nuzzi and company to pack their offices up.
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on May 9, 12 2:37 PM
So the files where moved by Capt Tenaglia before his retirement and the "changing of the guard"? I wonder what he was trying to hide from years past. I wonder if he'll get called in to speak about what he knows or is he safe because he quickly retired on an injury. I hope the DA gets to the bottom of all of this
By mrobin (96), North Sea on May 9, 12 3:21 PM
Can anyone say "gone fishing"? "WE" still need to know what is going ON!!!!
By rrc1049 (61), Bridgehampton on May 9, 12 3:43 PM
Police arrive at 9am and had to hang out an hour waiting for Sundy. Plenty of time for the Press to be alerted. No one was tipped off ahead of time.
By EastEnd68 (840), Westhampton on May 9, 12 4:10 PM
The plot sickens.
By double standard (1320), Remsenburg on May 9, 12 4:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
For twenty years i've been saying the Southampton Cops are a bunch of crooks. They are worthless you call them for anything they say it is a civil matter and cant do anything. Half the retired cops are out on disability getting 3/4 pay working second jobs. It's a real dangerous job making a 130k sitting in an air conditioned car. Time for the local politicians to grow a set of balls and clean house. By the way people have had enough and the press should broadcast this everywhere
By chief1 (1372), southampton on May 9, 12 4:54 PM
Your 100% right I know a couple of those cops myself. Clean house is an understatement what about getting rid of them all together and all the other village and town police there has to be about 30 departments across Suffolk get rid of them all I'm sure between Suffolk police troopers and sheriffs we be fine less tax dollars and easiers to control 3 forces then 30 +-
By Remsen (53), Southampton on May 9, 12 11:41 PM
No thanks Remsen, the portion of taxes for police on my home in Southampton Town is $400, the portion of my taxes paid for police at a home I own in the Suffolk Police district $1,000. Watch what you wish for.
By blbandit (16), Southampton on May 10, 12 6:10 AM
"They are worthless?" ALL Southampton police officers? All of them? Nice generalization. I suppose you think that ALL people of certain races fulfill stereotypes, huh?
There are a bunch of good police officers out there. Grow up and get a life.
By getalife (38), Southampton on May 10, 12 8:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
I'm with you getalife.

I've dealt with the STPD quite a few times over several years and they were always there when I needed them. Responding to 911 calls efficiently and quickly, helping me when I locked my keys in my car (TWICE), responding to accidents quickly and getting all of the right information - never had an experience with a Town cop I didn't like (even when they were giving me a ticket).

I've met some Village cops that I didn't care for but that's a whole different ...more
By Nature (2611), Hampton Bays on May 10, 12 9:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe not all worthless but when your shredding docs and having the DA office going after you and people are being fired your obviously not the boy scouts . All priest aren't bad but I still woundnt leave my son alone with any of them.
By Remsen (53), Southampton on May 10, 12 3:42 PM
Think what you're saying man, think! The rank and file cops weren't in the office rummaging through the files. Any irregularities with police records in the last few days of the previous chief's tenure were directly attributable to the police hierarchy at that time. One of those people has just been suspended and the DA is investigating. The rot here starts at the top.
By VOS (623), WHB on May 10, 12 7:35 PM
I agree starts at the top but i think you'll see it involves many. The DA doesn't do things like this on small issues . George Guildi for example
By Remsen (53), Southampton on May 10, 12 9:06 PM
Did you feel the earthquake?

Were you standing at the shore when the ocean receded?

Can you feel the tsunami building?

See other articles from today by Ms. Reynolds and Mr. Wright.

Well done!

http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/General-Interest-Southampton/423299/Wilson-Receives-Another-Inquiry-About-Leaving-Southampton-Town

http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/General-Interest-Southampton/423298/DAs-Government-Corruption-Bureau-Subpeonas-Police-Records-At-Southampton-Town-Hall ...more
By PBR (4366), Southampton on May 9, 12 5:05 PM
al tumbarello must be happy that the spotlight is off him for now!
By semaj (10), riverside on May 9, 12 7:02 PM
QUICK SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE
By patrickstar (65), hampton bays on May 9, 12 8:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
LMFAO!!!!!!
By Mr. Z (6392), North Sea on May 9, 12 10:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
My question is, if there was shredding, which seems to be a given, then why would the documents not shredded be so important that a subpoena needed to be served and documents seized with so much hoop-la? I would think you would call in those who did the shredding and put it to them. Especially if ATH supposedly brought the documents to town hall and had them secured? Why the dog and pony show? Why didn't ATH simply hand over the documents? Is someone trying to cover their rear? Or is someone ...more
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on May 9, 12 9:32 PM
Uh oh...
By Mr. Z (6392), North Sea on May 9, 12 10:24 PM
The question is who would benefit by making the town nd the department's current and former senior officers look bad while at the same time settling personal vendettas and directing public interest away from their own public issues by leaking search warrants and unsubstantiated non-public personnel matters to the press? I think it's fairly obvious who wouldn't benefit and that only leaves a short list of possible candidates. What are the chances that by complete coincidence all of these allegations ...more
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on May 10, 12 1:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
All the Southampton residents need to be concerned with the following.

Federal and State law enforcement have kept Southampton Police out of the loop on all investigations within Southampton Town.

A call such as this would have to be made by high ranking officials in both Federal and State law enforcement. There must be some reason why this was done. This alone should be very troubling to all Southampton Town residents.

I hope that the Southampton Press continues to press ...more
By crusader (256), East Quogue on May 10, 12 8:22 AM
This is the tip of the iceberg. Town Hall is so corrupt, they can't possibly destroy or hide all the evidence.
By Dodger (113), Southampton Village on May 10, 12 7:58 AM
Is anyone running the police department while all of this nonsene is going on? Someone above said it best: "politics at its worst." This sounds to me like vendettas and personal attacks and nothing more.
By getalife (38), Southampton on May 10, 12 8:52 AM
Of course someone is running the police dept, thats what Chief Wilson was put in place to do. I guess by him running it he's uncovered alot of shady tactics that the Overton/Tenaglia administration did and he, along with other agencies are now bringing them to light. Politics at its worst is what some of the town board members are doing, I hope Marietta and Tenaglia are comfy on the beach in the Keys pulling the strings of the puppets up North, seems like the parties over.....
By mrobin (96), North Sea on May 10, 12 10:25 AM
With multiple investigations of the STPD ongoing, some by the county and possibly even the feds, SOMETHING good will come of this. However, the limits of extra-Town law enforcement interest to be inferred from the articles to date causes one to doubt whether a true cleaning of the Augean stables will ensue.

Town corruption is complex and systemic. The Town Board is involved either by omission or commission. As their misfeasance pertains to the STPD, the Town Council has permitted a ...more
By highhatsize (2163), East Quogue on May 10, 12 7:48 PM
"Town corruption is complex and systemic."

Quite a broad charge to make with no substantiation whatsoever. You don't state this as a matter of opinion but as fact yet offer nothing in support. You seem to be putting everyone on the "force" on equal footing in regard to these implications, yet fail to even make allegations with any specificity. Are you of the opinion that your (trite) "Blue Wall of Silence" encircles all, from the newest recruit to the recently retired senior officers? ...more
By VOS (623), WHB on May 10, 12 11:55 PM
Does anyone really think Anna Throne is going to be any help? Maybe they are investigating why the cops called Anna at 2am saying they arrested Linda Kabot. The PBA head calling the supervisor at 2 am sounds fishy to me.Time to make a deal with the state police and rid ourselves of the corruption.
By chief1 (1372), southampton on May 10, 12 10:07 PM
to VOS:

Everything that I state in these comments is a "matter of opinion" (mine.)

I have specified instances of STPD insubordination, arrogance and unprofessional conduct often in earlier posts, to the extent that some cop apologists have accused me of harping on the theme. I invite you to reread my earlier comments. As for actionable fact, as opposed to opinion, if I had such evidence, so would the county or the feds and these articles would be about arrests rather than investigations. ...more
By highhatsize (2163), East Quogue on May 11, 12 4:07 AM
I am confident that this investigation will find that all were within the area of
law abiding Police investigations. My concern is that the public has responded
without having the facts. I find it questionable who is at fault when in fact the
newspapers and Ch. 12 had the story???? Discrediting individuals before the
facts are released do not serve the public very well! Our Southampton Community has been disgraced by innuendo. I have confidence that this will be settled
as ...more
By East Ender (64), Southampton on May 13, 12 4:44 PM
Well the removal of the documents is a clue.Your pollyanna viewpoint is frightening.Little wonder that we wind up with mediocre government
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on May 14, 12 2:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
East Ender is pollyanna-this story is the tip of the iceberg.
By EastEnd68 (840), Westhampton on May 14, 12 4:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
It will be interesting to see what comes of this. There's a reason why Chief Wilson was not wanted by some...perhaps now we'll find out why.
By pstevens (399), Wilmington on May 15, 12 2:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
Im sure if they dig deep enough,They will find out there all criminals, especially the village police. If your in the there group,they are all willing to look the other way.Rather than up hold the law in which they were sworn to do.Were always looking at law enforcement, When lets not forget there always taking orders from are judges.B.L.W and E.B there the real criminals. There no such thing as equal justice, only selective enforcement.
By G_J_V_Overbeck (24), Westhampton Beach on May 16, 12 12:18 AM
Looks like the Grand Jury is sitting in on this one ladies and gentlemen. Tell me, who will be indicted?
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on May 16, 12 8:34 AM
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