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LaValle, Thiele leave law office; deny relation to NYS controversy

LaValle Thiele

Recently released financial disclosure reports for 2015 show that both state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) have resigned from positions at Twomey, Latham Shea, Kelley, Dubin and Quartararo, the prominent Riverhead law firm where both previously worked.

In separate interviews, Mr. LaValle and Mr. Thiele gave the same reason for leaving the firm and said their respective decisions had nothing to do with the controversy surrounding outside income following the 2015 arrests of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and former state Senate majority leader Dean Skelos.

“It had nothing to do with anything other than the fact that the person who brought me into the law office was Tom Twomey, who passed away,” Mr. LaValle said. “That was the whole reason. I had been there about 12 years.”

Mr. Twomey, who founded the law firm, died in November 2014 at the age of 68. He was widely credited with leading farmland preservation efforts in New York State and with scuttling efforts to build two nuclear power plants in Jamesport.

“My decision to leave had more to do with the death of Tom Twomey,” reiterated Mr. Thiele, who joined the firm in July 2013 and left in January 2015. “We were both there because Tom had brought us in; that was our link to the firm.”

Disclosure reports are required of all elected officials in New York State and are filed around May of the following year before being made public July 1. The 2015 reports — which provide a range of income received from various sources — are the most recent available.

Both Mr. LaValle and Mr. Thiele earn base salaries of $79,500 per year from their state legislative positions. Mr. LaValle, 77, receives an additional $25,000 as chairman of the Senate Majority Conference as well as a $98,000 retirement pension not listed in his report. (State law allows employees who started before 1995 to collect a full pension when they turn 65, even if they are still in office and continue to collect their full salaries.)

Mr. LaValle said he resigned from Twomey Latham last April. The disclosure forms indicate that he made between $50,000 and $75,000 from the firm in 2015. The previous year he earned between $75,000 and $100,000 from the firm, according to the disclosure reports.

His duties there included real estate law, municipal law, wills and elder law, Mr. LaValle said.

In addition to his salary, Mr. Thiele, 62, made between $20,000 and $30,000 in 2015 as a private counsel; between $1,000 and $5,000 working for Twomey Latham and between $50,000 and $75,000 as Sag Harbor Village attorney, a position he stepped down from in April 2016.

“With Sag Harbor, that was more of a matter that was working literally 70 to 80 hours per week, which was not all that much fun,” Mr. Thiele said. He added that he recently got married and is hoping to practice law on a smaller scale and spend more time with his wife.

At Twomey Latham, Mr. Thiele’s practice areas were municipal and real estate law and land use and environmental services, according to the disclosure report.

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Photo: (L-R) State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele. (Credit: Times Review, file)