Riverhead Town appealing decision in Route 58 land-clearing case

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A Christmas Tree Shops department store is now planned by the new owners of Larry Oxman's former property on Route 58.

Riverhead Town has filed an appeal of a recent court ruling dismissing all charges against realtor Larry Oxman, who the town in 2004 accused of illegally clearing 13 acres on Route 58.

Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein, who was on the case because both of Riverhead’s judges had recused themselves, ruled April 1 that Riverhead Town had “failed to prove their case against Larry Oxman beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Mr. Oxman said the appeal comes at taxpayers’ expense and questioned the town’s motives in filing it.

“I am not surprised the town would file an appeal,“ Mr. Oxman said in a press release. “This was always a matter of vengeance and retaliation against me personally, not about the law.”

He said the town filed the appeal dispite the fact that he lost the property to foreclosure and despite the fact that the town won’t even get any fines from the action, since the fines would go to Southampton Town court.

“I don’t get it. What do they have to gain?” he asjed, adding, “The town is throwing good money after bad.

“I can see why taxes keep going up in Riverhead.”

Riverhead Park Corp, the company Mr. Oxman was involved with at the time, has since filed for bankruptcy, and Mr. Oxman’s partner in the venture, Stanley Blumenstein, died in 2010.

Town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said in an interview Tuesday the reason the town has filed an appealedelates to a section of the April 1 decision stating that some of the charges were dismissed because the town failed to file a notice of claim in the bankruptcy case against Riverhead Park Corp.

“We believe the rationale for court decision on the bankruptcy question is incorrect and in order to reserve our rights to research and litigate that issue, we needed to file a notice of appeal,” he said.

“To put it simply, we don’t believe someone can avoid criminal prosecution by filing bankruptcy,” he added.

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