Tria sues Riverhead Town for removal as BID president

06/29/2011 8:41 PM |
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Vince Tria outside Riverhead Town Hall during happier times. Mr. Tria served the town as a volunteer downtown ombudsman under former supervisor Phil Cardinale.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Vince Tria outside Riverhead Town Hall during happier times. Mr. Tria served the town as a volunteer downtown ombudsman under former supervisor Phil Cardinale.

Former Business Improvement District management association president Vince Tria has filed a lawsuit against Riverhead Town Board members seeking $10 million in damages resulting from his removal last year as BID president.

Mr. Tria, who owns the WRIV radio station in Riverhead and was an assistant to former Democratic Supervisor Phil Cardinale, was removed as the unpaid BID president in early 2010 by the newly elected Republican majority, and he claims the town is retaliating against him for “whistleblowing activities.”

Mr. Tria had filed a notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, in March 2010 making similar claims and seeking the same $10 million in damages, but he hadn’t filed suit until now. The two-page summons was served to town officials Tuesday, although it says it was filed March 1.

Mr. Tria names as defendants Supervisor Sean Walter and Council members Jim Wooten, Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen, both individually and as members of the Town Board.

Councilman John Dunleavy, who was absent from the 2010 vote in which the board replaced Mr. Tria as a BID board member, was not named in the lawsuit.

“This is an action for declaratory relief and recovery of monetary damages by reason of defendants’ wrongful termination of plaintiff as president of the BID in violation of required procedure and in retaliation for whistleblowing activities and exercise of his constitutional rights,” the summons states. “Defendants have failed to comply with proper procedure and due process and their intent was to chill plaintiff’s exercise of his federal and state constitutional rights. Plaintiff seeks recovery of damages for defamation and infliction of emotional distress.”

Mr. Tria, who seeks $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages, Mr. did not returned phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Mr. Walter was not amused by news of the lawsuit.

“This is nothing more than a political stunt,” he said. “He filed the lawsuit on March 1 and he had 120 days to serve it. Yesterday was the last day. He tried to drag this as far into the election season as he could to help Phil Cardinale and now, if he doesn’t serve the notice, his lawsuit will become null and void.”

Mr. Walter said Mr. Tria waited until the last minute to file the lawsuit, as he had a year to do so after filing the notice of claim, and he waited until the last minute to serve.

“It will cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars to defend this frivolous lawsuit,” Mr. Walter said.

tgannon@timesreview.com

47 Comment

  • The only “whistle blowing” Mr. Tria does is when his not too tight dentures make noise as he speaks….closely.

    This suit is a joke and so is Mr. Tria, the old man accomplished nothing as the “downtown mayor” and he is just a bitter old coger. He thinks he has one more fight left in him for Phil Cardinale and it is so sad –they are all part of the past.

    Vince, wake up, there is a new Riverhead moving forward and sadly you aren’t part of it. All you like to do now is sue people. Have the discredited dwarf carry your water. You used to matter.

  • what a shame,it seems that mr.tria is always in the middle of some kind of controversy.but what i do not understand is he was told by the attorney he hired for the bid when he was president that an attempt at a lawsuit was without merit.he just cost the bid 1000.00 in fines because as president he neglected to get workmens comp for our employee,we had to spend an additional 1200.00 for fireworks company he hired as president for insurance the fireworks company should have had.the list goes on.how about telling us we could not buy firewood for the christmas bonfire 300.00,but he put a 300.00 ad on his own radio station when we already where paying for a tv ad.we were never allowed to talk when he was bid president yet he shows up at our meetings and we let him speak just like any other bid member. he should spend more time working at making the vail more successful but that will never happen,as a former member of the vail i could honestly say that all he would do was kill any ideas the board would give him.his main focus was the blues festival that got less and less attendance every year since he took it over and sadly it was financed by the town taxpayers who he charged to get in then instead of using the profit to do more fund raisers and shows he just put the money in the vails bank account.under cardinale he would never give an accounting of the money ,oddly enough cardinale was the same man who gave vince the blues festival and even used the towns insurance to cover it.unlike the bid which has it’s own insurance for every event. i remember when i was on the vail board and we voted not to sell liquor, the following month he was selling liquor again without our approval who holds the license to sell liquor at the vail ??? do they have liquor liability insurance? i doubt it. vince,again concentrate on making the vail a place the community can be proud of,let your board take it over,i am sure you have members that are capable of doing a great job

  • It seems quite simple- sometimes volunteers are welcomed and sometimes they are not. Just what is Mr. Tria’s problem? If he needs to be involved in the community as a volunteer there are many, many NGOs that could use his assistance. His insistence on being in control of the BID and the VAIL are just plain silly. And as to being a whistle blower- what was filed with the NYS AG’s office, the official office for filing such complaints? Once again, Mr. Tria just needs to turn his attention to matters of importance, such as the lack of proper lighting on his radio tower, the fact that his radio tower does not have the requisite 200 foot fall space, a radio station that each day gets smaller and smaller- these are items that are significant, not whether he has access to the BID and VAIL check books. It is time for Mr. Tria to re-direct himself and become constructive rather than tiring all of his with his constant chatter, threats, and just plain foolishness.

  • Really? once again good press, bad press, as long as it’s press. Or as one Vail board member put it…”Oh it’s just Vince being Vince. Kinda sums it up rather well, don’t it