Supervisor: ‘Harsh discipline’ forthcoming amid internal probes


There is currently more than one investigation going on in Town Hall into the conduct of Riverhead Town employees, the News-Review has learned.

And Supervisor Sean Walter told the paper Friday he expects harsh discipline to be forthcoming. He declined to offer any details.

As the News-Review reported last month, Riverhead Town is investigating whether the town’s chief financial officer, William Rothaar, and others in the accounting department’s Pulaski Street offices used town equipment to conduct private business.

While that investigation has yet to be concluded, some others are under way, officials said.

“The ethics committee,” Mr. Walter said in an interview, “I don’t want to say that they’re working overtime, but I am referring things to the town attorney, saying you’ve got to look at this and you’ve got to look at that.

“We all have to be held to the highest of standards.”

Two town officials, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and deputy supervisor Jill Lewis, were overheard by a News-Review reporter after Wednesday night’s Town Board meeting having a conversation about an ongoing ethics probe, and the possibility of a female employee facing termination.

Councilman George Gabrielsen confirmed Friday that there is a probe, but that “it has nothing to do with Rothaar.”

“I really, honestly, can’t comment at this time,” he said. “But I’m sure sooner or later somebody has to say something.”

He also said the accounting investigation is not yet complete, and that he has urged an outside lawyer hired by the town to investigate the matter to ask some specific questions, and to examine activity dating further back than the initial allegations.

“If I’m not satisfied, believe me, there is going to be a stink,”Mr. Gabrielsen said of when the lawyer’s findings are presented to the Town Board.

Mr. Walter acknowledged that more than one town employee has been reprimanded this year. “Oh, yes,” he said. “We have had a couple letters placed in personnel files. And there’s going to be some much harsher discipline on the horizon for things that have happened. I will not tolerate this stuff.”

Speaking generally, he said he believed some employees think they can get away with unacceptable behavior, such as insubordination, because elected officials come and go.

But, he insisted, he’s “going to flush out anything and everything that may be inappropriate.”

“It’s not without it’s political risks,” he continued. “It’s a small town. These people are our neighbors.”

Matt Hattorff, president of the Riverhead Civil Service Employees Union said when asked for any details, “There are some investigations going on, but I’m not really going to get into it.

“I represent 170 people, and you know what? They’re all really good people,” he continued. “And my members will be represented to the fullest extent.”

Ms. Giglio could not be reached for comment.

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Staff reporter Vera Chinese contributed reporting to this story.