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Ethics Board: Councilwoman Kent must disclose clients of former husband

05/21/2019 5:30 AM |

Riverhead Councilwoman Catherine Kent is being asked by the town’s Ethics Board to make a public disclosure every time her former husband, Chris Kent, represents a new client or application before the Town Board. 

Mr. Kent most recently began representing Triple Five Group, the company that owns 75% of Calverton Aviation & Technology, which seeks to buy 1,643 acres of town-owned land for $40 million. 

Other companies with applications before the Town Board or other town agencies that are represented by Mr. Kent or his firm, Farrell Fritz, include sPower, Knolls at Fox Hills, Wellsbridge and the Shops at Riverhead. 

When she first took office in 2018, Ms. Kent said she would abstain on applications her ex-husband was involved with. 

However, when Mr. Kent began working for Triple Five in February, she wrote to the Ethics Board asking for advice.

“I was very surprised when he became the lawyer for Triple Five,” she said. “I want to be able to participate in something that’s so important to the town.”

Ms. Kent voted against granting the “qualified and eligible sponsor” designation for CAT, which passed by a 3-2 margin. 

At the April 25 Town Board meeting, she read the following statement: 

“My ex-husband, Chris Kent, is an attorney who represents clients before the Town Board, Planning Board and departments. The divorce settlement was finalized and entered by the courts on Dec. 20, 2012, and our divorce was final as of 2013. The final divorce decree judgment was entered in the court on Sept. 10, 2013. 

“Child support payments ended December 2014 and maintenance payments ceased on June 1, 2016.”

“Mr. Kent represents Triple Five in the purchase of EPCAL.

“I do not have any business dealings and I do not stand to gain or benefit financially from decisions made in reference with his client in any way.” 

Ms. Kent said she was told by town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz that she needs to read the statement only one time for each new issue or a new client represented by her former husband.

“I made the statement on EPCAL, so I don’t have to make a statement again,” she said. 

Ms. Kent said she doesn’t know for how long she’ll have to make the disclosure or if it applies to everyone in her husband’s law firm, adding that she plans to ask about that. 

Chris Kent is himself a former Riverhead Town councilman who served from 1998 to 2001.

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