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Nov 13, 2017 5:18 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Former Sag Harbor Firefighter Sues Village And Ex-Chief, Claiming Sexual Assault By Department Member

Former fire chief Thomas Gardella.   PRESS FILE
Nov 14, 2017 12:08 PM

A former Sag Harbor firefighter is suing the village and an ex-fire chief over what the complaint describes as a “sexual assault.”

In the lawsuit, Noel Brandt of Sag Harbor claims that Ray Milazzo, another member of the Sag Harbor Fire Department, grabbed Mr. Brandt’s crotch “and continued to hold it for a period of time” at an inter-company fire department function on June 4, 2015.

Mr. Brandt claims in the lawsuit that the incident took place in front of Eugene Garypie, another former fire chief, and Mr. Brandt’s uncle, former Mayor Brian Gilbride, who were both “encouraging” Mr. Milazzo’s behavior. After the incident, Mr. Brandt sent a text message to Mr. Garypie to pass along to Mr. Gilbride, according to the complaint, which was filed on Monday, November 6, in U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York. The text message said that their “snickering” and encouragement during the incident had been “unacceptable.”

The text message from Mr. Brandt to Mr. Garypie also said, “Let your friend know I am having a 2 for 1 sale on whoop ass …”

Mr. Brandt claims that he was then suspended and subsequently fired from the fire department on the order of former fire chief Thomas Gardella.

According to Lawrence E. Kelly, Mr. Brandt’s attorney, Mr. Brandt had a meeting with Chief Gardella and two assistant chiefs regarding the incident, after which Mr. Brandt was suspended from the fire department. When the suspension was brought up in front of the department’s Board of Wardens later in 2015, the lawsuit claims, the board was unaware of the sexual nature of the assault, Mr. Kelly said.

The suit claims that Mr. Brandt did not get the chance to testify in front of the Board of Wardens because Chief Gardella told him to wait outside the meeting. Mr. Brandt says that Chief Gardella told him afterward that his suspension would be extended and that he would have to pay to attend “anger management” classes.

Mr. Brandt was fired from the department by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees in January 2016 after a termination order was submitted by Mr. Gardella. The lawsuit says that Mr. Brandt was enrolled in the Length of Service Award Program, or LOSAP, which provides an accumulation of annuity payments with a credit for every year or service. Because of his suspension and subsequent termination, the lawsuit claims, Mr. Brandt was denied future LOSAP benefits.

Reached on Monday, Mr. Milazzo said the lawsuit was “news to me” and that he could not comment on Mr. Brandt’s allegations.

Mr. Gardella said that he had no knowledge of the incident and was not even present at the 2015 department event.

“The things that he’s alleging, I can’t even repeat it. It’s so disgusting,” said the former chief, who ran for a seat on the Village Board earlier this year. “He never brought that to my knowledge, and it’s something that we take very seriously.”

Mr. Brandt is seeking $950,000 in damages from Mr. Gardella and the village, along with an additional $300,000 in damages from Mr. Gardella specifically for not giving Mr. Brandt the opportunity to testify for his case.

Mr. Brandt could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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Well that's..........different.
By johnj (687), Westhampton on Nov 14, 17 10:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
Please tell me this did not happen in Sag at an inter company function.He was grabbed and held for a period of time,wow pain and suffering will have to factor into this settlement.Of course if it happened.
By watchdog1 (401), Southampton on Nov 14, 17 10:08 AM
Give me a break, he waited 2 years to jump on the bandwagon with the rest of the Hollywood idiots.
By mtkfishman (24), montauk on Nov 14, 17 10:41 AM
To be clear, are you saying you don't believe him? Or that if it wasn't a problem at the time it shouldn't be a problem now?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (546), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 14, 17 10:50 AM
I sure as hell don’t believe him.
By Nukiepoo (102), Southampton on Nov 15, 17 11:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Do you have any reason in particular for disbelieving him, or is it your intuition?

According to this guy there were witnesses. Have they spoken on it either way?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (546), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 16, 17 11:37 AM
This is about the funniest thing I have ever read! This will get thrown out of court in a heart beat. Once they check in to him and see what type of human he really is! Hopefully he will be billed for the use of the court system in this most ridiculous law suit. The man can even hold a job with all his anger issues!
By J. Totta (89), Sag Harbor on Nov 14, 17 11:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
As one of his former employers, I could not agree more.
By Nukiepoo (102), Southampton on Nov 15, 17 11:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By watchdog1 (401), Southampton on Nov 14, 17 4:02 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By watchdog1 (401), Southampton on Nov 14, 17 5:28 PM
"Leave it to the Harborites" a quote from my wife, born and raised there
By bigfresh (2984), north sea on Nov 14, 17 5:40 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Stickybandit (9), HB on Nov 14, 17 5:41 PM
Should have settled it right then and there...punched his lights out if he didn't like it.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Nov 14, 17 5:52 PM
Yes, the guy getting accused of anger issues should have violently lashed out. That would have definitely worked out better for him.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (546), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 14, 17 7:53 PM
Wouldn't the results have been the same?? He was in a no win situation. Didn't the other guy learn to keep his hands to himself in kindergarten????
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Nov 14, 17 11:16 PM
The story is total BS. I know Ray and have for years. He would never have done something so stupid. I happen to know that this is a sour grapes issue.
By Nukiepoo (102), Southampton on Nov 15, 17 11:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By saggguy (12), SAGAPONACK on Nov 14, 17 8:13 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sagharborparent (30), sag harbor on Nov 15, 17 8:00 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sagharborparent (30), sag harbor on Nov 15, 17 12:42 PM
Not trying to make light or be rude or anything, genuinely asking -- shouldn't sexual assualt charges require the act to be sexual in nature? There's gotta be a legal term for forced fondeling of genitalia in a non-sexual manner. There's a legal term for everything. For places just like Sag Harbor...
By Brandon Quinn (109), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 17 1:33 PM
The phrase you're looking looking for is "forcible touching" and I believe it is a degree of sexual assault in New York Penal Law.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (546), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 15, 17 2:17 PM
Seriously ? Coming from Hampton Bays ?
By Sturgis (242), Southampton on Nov 15, 17 3:55 PM
Not a single HBFD member would ever sue over this lol. I meant only to say sag harbor is unique in its news stories lol
By Brandon Quinn (109), Hampton Bays on Nov 20, 17 2:42 PM
Believe me there are more slippery perverts in sag harbor than you can count just take a stroll down Bay Street or Long Island Avenue. Those freaks can’t keep there hands to them selves grabbin anything they can.
By Stickybandit (9), HB on Nov 15, 17 9:10 PM
What are you babbling about???? And you’re from Hampton Bays as well? Wow you’re confused!!!!
By Sturgis (242), Southampton on Nov 16, 17 8:59 AM
So he was so distraught he waited 2 1/2 years (almost) to bring a lawsuit. Well that makes complete sense.
By Bayman1 (293), Sag Harbor on Nov 16, 17 7:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sagharborparent (30), sag harbor on Nov 16, 17 10:15 AM
Head lock? Oh, I get it. Tough to know what really happened-reputation or not, no one needs to get grabbed by the peepee. Suspended and terminated, and denied an undisclosed amount of future payments to which he is entitled. He didn't wait 2 1/2 years...says he was terminated in Jan. 2016. Takes time to collect your thoughts and build your case, no? Maybe the 80 year old needed a little action?
What was the guy suspended for? And terminated for? Must be more to the story.
By deepchanel (15), Southampton on Nov 16, 17 10:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By patriot50 (26), sag harbor on Nov 16, 17 4:34 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By patriot50 (26), sag harbor on Nov 16, 17 4:35 PM
he was suspended for violent behavior....But I'm sure this will be taken down
By sagharborparent (30), sag harbor on Nov 17, 17 8:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Please Join The FD— And have your brain sucked out of your cornhole.
By Stickybandit (9), HB on Nov 17, 17 9:04 PM
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