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Dec 8, 2014 6:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Offers Police Chief Job To Wilson; Rescinds Offer Six Days Later

Dec 10, 2014 11:16 AM

The Westhampton Beach Village Board on Friday withdrew an offer it had made less than a week earlier to former Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr., one of eight candidates it had interviewed while looking to replace former Village Police Chief Ray Dean, who retired in June.

The board sent a formal offer to Mr. Wilson, who also once served as chief of the Southampton Village Police Department, on November 29, offering him a nearly two-and-a-half-year contract that would have paid $164,000 per annum. The unratified contract—a copy of which was provided to The Press by Mr. Wilson—was supposed to begin sometime in December and expire on May 31, 2017.

But on Friday, December 5, Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Maria Moore withdrew the offer at the direction of the Village Board, according to Mr. Wilson.

“I kind of half expected it,” Mr. Wilson, who now runs a private security company in East Hampton, said on Monday evening about the board’s decision to back out of the deal. “I do know that, ultimately, she did me a favor. I’m just a glutton for punishment wanting to get back into policing, but it would have been a little bit of vindication for me after what happened with the town.”

Mr. Wilson noted that the terms of the contract, including his salary and its length, were still being negotiated when the offer was pulled.

Mr. Wilson, who retired as chief of police in Southampton Town in December 2012 after only 18 months on the job, alleged that members of the Village Board—who he said had unanimously approved the job offer—were bullied into changing their mind by former Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi, who lives in Westhampton Beach.

Mr. Wilson often clashed with the Southampton Town Board and, in particular, Mr. Nuzzi, a Republican. Mr. Wilson said he thinks Mr. Nuzzi convinced certain members of the Village Board to withdraw their offer to get back at him for filing charges against Town Police Lieutenant James Kiernan, a committeeman for the Southampton Town Republican Party.

“Chris Nuzzi took it upon himself to approach the board members to scare them off,” Mr. Wilson said, referring to the Village Board members. He added that he does not know which board members changed their minds.

“I have no comment on that,” Mr. Nuzzi said when reached on Monday evening and asked about Mr. Wilson’s allegations.

When he served as Town Police chief, Mr. Wilson disbanded the department’s Street Crimes Unit, an undercover anti-drug force, and leveled more than 30 disciplinary charges against the leader of that unit, Lt. Kiernan. As part of his complaints, the former chief had accused Lt. Kiernan of allowing an undercover officer to continue working even though he had become addicted to prescription painkillers, a development that led to the dismissal of cases and, in some instances, the release of convicted felons by the order of the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

Lt. Kiernan was suspended for six months in 2012 but returned to the force shortly before Mr. Wilson’s retirement at the end of that year. In March of this year, Lt. Kiernan filed a $7.5 million civil rights lawsuit against the Town Police Department, and Mr. Wilson, alleging that Mr. Wilson had previously asked Lt. Kiernan to use his political connections to help land him the job in the town.

In a text message on Monday evening, Ms. Moore stated that a legally binding offer cannot be made without a public vote by the Village Board, adding that no such vote has taken place regarding Mr. Wilson. She declined to comment further on the situation, stating that it is a personnel matter. She also did not answer a text asking if she had been approached by Mr. Nuzzi.

“The Trustees have interviewed eight different candidates, the matter is close to completion and … a resolution will be effected at a public meeting most likely to be held early next week,” Ms. Moore wrote in her text message. “Beyond that I cannot comment upon a matter properly still under consideration by the Board of Trustees.”

On Wednesday morning, Ms. Moore announced that a special meeting would be held at 7 p.m. tonight, December 11, at which the Village Board would be making an announcement about its plans for hiring a new chief.

Mr. Wilson said the Village Board approached him and asked him to apply for the job, and went as far as to bring him in for a second interview before sending over a draft contract late last month.

The board appeared poised to name a new police chief at last Thursday night’s board meeting, but no one sitting at the dais brought up the matter. In an interview last week, Ms. Moore had said that the board had hoped to make an announcement in the next few days.

Village Trustee Ralph Urban said he and other members of the Village Board were approached by many community members after hearing rumors that Mr. Wilson was a top candidate to succeed Mr. Dean. Mr. Urban declined to say if Mr. Nuzzi was one of those residents, noting that many people who approached him asked for anonymity.

Mr. Urban added that the board has struggled to reach a unanimous decision on who to hire as the village’s next police chief, noting that he does not know when a decision would be made. “Every meeting we’re getting closer, but for some reason, in some cases, we take two steps forward and three steps back,” he said. “We’re negotiating with ourselves as well.”

Board members Hank Tucker, Charlie Palmer and Patricia DiBenedetto did not return calls this week.

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This Village board and Mayor has become the most disfunctional government body in the state. In 6mos now they have accomplished nothing but raise the mayors salary. I hope she realizes she only has a two year term to accomplish all her promises. It's a joke !
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Dec 8, 14 7:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
STAY AWAY from any prior Southampton Town Police personnel. Turn the page and hire some new blood with no connection or political attachments. Don't screw this up. The Village Board has one chance to get this right.
By carson (79), southampton on Dec 8, 14 8:49 PM
They already screwed it up and most likely had influence from within the department. When people see change, good or bad you would be amazed at the lack of maturity and class one exhibits. At the next Village Board Meeting giant pacifiers should be handed out and a giant sign should read Welcome to the Puppet Show! Hopefully, the Board will at the very least continue to look for someone from the outside to lead the PD. Puppets!!!!
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Dec 8, 14 9:11 PM
Why is the board looking outside of the department for a new chief ? Again, I'll remind the board of what took place in the town...The hiring of a chief from outside the department caused nothing but problems and at the end the chief just left and the town board thought its best to hire from within . Why is it that the village board is looking outside of the department to hire someone to lead it ? Is there a problem now after chief Dean left ? From what the board indicatesin recent articles ...more
By Urit (24), Quogue on Dec 8, 14 9:41 PM
“I kind of half expected it,” Mr. Wilson, who now runs a private security company in East Hampton, said on Monday evening about the board’s decision to back out of the deal. “I do know that, ultimately, she did me a favor. I’m just a glutton for punishment wanting to get back into policing, but it would have been a little bit of vindication for me after what happened with the town.”

What kind of pompous jerk is this guy?! And to take a position such as ...more
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Dec 8, 14 10:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Correction: he did not retire, he quit.

And if Mr. Nuzzi did stop this as he's being accused of, we the residents of WHB owe him many thanks. As the Board did Wilson a favor, Mr. Nuzzi did one for us.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Dec 8, 14 10:35 PM
Yeah, he quit, but the real issue is WHEN he quit -- during SS Sandy!
By Frank Wheeler (1818), Northampton on Dec 8, 14 10:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
I struggle to understand why the mayor and trustees continue to try and force a square peg into a round hole, when there is a candidate within the department that continues to successfully audition for the position.

Even if WHB goes outside to fill the position, that candidate will ultimately have to show him the departmental ropes for the first few months. What the village is doing to Lt. Gonce is undignified.

It'd be appreciated if the village would stop playing petty games ...more
By Paramarine (28), Raleigh, NC on Dec 8, 14 10:38 PM
What goes around comes around, I love it, KARMA !
By Jm225316 (18), Holbrook on Dec 8, 14 11:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wilson was the one who was bullied out of that job by Town Republicans. The disciplinary action he wanted to take against Lt. Keirnan was overturned and he was stripped of his power. Nuzzi was right in the middle of that mess. He is just another cog in that Rep. machine
By tenn tom (250), remsenburg on Dec 9, 14 8:56 AM
Bullied all the way down to Florida? I don't think so!

And what about that "she did me a favor" baloney! Talk about delusional and trying to save face!

Still, what sort of vetting process did the Village do prior to offering him the job?
By Frank Wheeler (1818), Northampton on Dec 9, 14 9:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
And bullied to stay in Florida then quit via email and never return to his department? They have clearly done no vetting process although, they have claimed that the reason they have not appointed a Chief yet is because they are doing their due diligence?
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Dec 9, 14 9:53 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Dec 9, 14 9:50 AM
So we know that former chief wilson was one of the candidates for the position . Does anyone know who the others are ? I understand that the village trustees and the mayor will ultimately have the last say but shouldn't the. Residence participate in that process by voicing their opinion ?
By Urit (24), Quogue on Dec 9, 14 12:16 PM
“We will follow the trail on this guy until the end of time,” Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr. said. “We’re never going to stop going after him.”


Rest in Peace, Sister Jackie Walsh. Mowed down and left to die on the side of the road on July 9, 2012 -- two years and five months ago, as of today.


Eleven days for (then) Chief Wilson's department to release the suspected driver's ID and photo (assuming that he was not a fall-guy ...more
By PBR (4947), Southampton on Dec 9, 14 1:50 PM
2 members liked this comment
Note please that Mr. Nuzzi does not even deny this report, but says merely, "I have no comment on that."

Chris Nuzzi lives in Westhampton Beach and I don't, so this is more his area than mine. Also, I'm not a law enforcement professional, so I'm not at all qualified to say who should run the Westhampton Beach police force. Still as matter of public policy and sound government, I'll say this:

If the elected Trustees of the Village of Westhampton Beach are going to take their ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1957), Quiogue on Dec 9, 14 1:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
I don't know, TB -- you're a great deal closer physically than I am but it sounds like Mr. Nuzzi set aside his "Republican apparatchik" allegiances and put his community first.

As the same time I suspect that your animus toward the man is almost entirely based on his registration.
By Frank Wheeler (1818), Northampton on Dec 9, 14 3:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Who should run it? Why do we need it? I know WHB is rife with crime and criminals, but Is taxpayer money that easy to come by?
By dave21 (15), westhampton on Dec 9, 14 2:02 PM
Is the Board reluctant to promote someone, either from with-in or laterally, who could then retire with-in a short period of time and leave them with a massive payout of unused sick/personal days?
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Dec 9, 14 2:08 PM
Conspicuously missing are comments from one commentator who usually pops up to defend the mayor at all costs maybe there is some scrambling going on at the other village hall trying to save face enlight of this embarrassing screw up.
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Dec 9, 14 3:27 PM
Beachbme you know who I'm talking about
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Dec 9, 14 3:28 PM
Yes, Hollywood. My comment was deleted inviting them to this discussion.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Dec 10, 14 8:43 AM
I would like to know who Nuzzi put the screws to to make them change their vote.
By tenn tom (250), remsenburg on Dec 9, 14 10:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why does it matter who? He is a Village resident paying Village taxes, had they discussed Wilson in a public hearing he would have been able to say anything he saw fit at that time.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Dec 10, 14 8:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
I have to think questions such as this are rhetorical: "I struggle to understand why the mayor and trustees continue to try and force a square peg into a round hole, when there is a candidate within the department that continues to successfully audition for the position."

Clearly he was considered because he IS not internal to WHB AND he has some small history of dealing with problem units like SH Street Crimes. Add one and one and you can infer that the mayor and the board do not accept ...more
By Hambone (512), New York on Dec 9, 14 11:28 PM
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