Featured Story

Town Board votes in favor of hiring outside attorney to examine CAT contract

After several failed attempts, the Riverhead Town Board Tuesday approved a resolution to hire an outside attorney to review the town’s contract with Calverton Aviation & Technology.

The Town Board, in its role as Community Development Agency board, voted 4-1 to authorize the retention of Lazer, Aptheker, Rosella & Yedid PC, a Melville-based law firm, as special counsel to review the CAT contract.

“Now that all our ducks are in a row with the scoping plan and we’ve met with our original attorney, I am ready to move forward,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she’s not happy that the law firm chosen is not from outside Suffolk County, but added, “I feel it is important to hire an attorney to look at some of the things, predominantly after they close on the property.”

She voted yes “in the spirit of cooperation.”

“This decision is long overdue,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. “I think it’s critical we have outside counsel take a look at this contract.”

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith echoed those thoughts.

“I think it’s important that we have another attorney look at the contract as we go through this process and head toward closing,” she said.

Councilman Jim Wooten voted no without commenting.

The town had already hired attorney Frank Isler and his firm — Smith, Finkelstein, Lundberg, Isler and Yakaboski — on matters pertaining to the sale of 1,643 acres of town-owned land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton to CAT.

But Ms. Jens-Smith had suggested hiring an additional attorney to review the contract following reports that Luminati Aerospace, which owns 25% of CAT but is a non-voting member of that company, had been sued for defaulting on a $10 million loan and had moved its operations off of Long Island and into an upstate location.

Officials questioned if this would affect the contract, which was originally written for Luminati before the creation of CAT and before Luminati’s association with Triple Five Group, which nows owns 75% of CAT.

But when the proposal came up for a vote at a special meeting on April 25, Ms. Giglio and Mr. Hubbard, the Republican council members, were opposed, saying they were not involved in the selection of the law firm the supervisor and Ms. Kent, both Democrats, put forward. The resolution was withdrawn.

Mr. Wooten has said all along that he doesn’t support hiring an outside attorney to review the contract.

The board tried again on May 22, but Mr. Hubbard, who had earlier supported the idea, instead said he wanted to talk to the attorney the town has already hired on the CAT deal, Mr. Isler, before hiring other attorneys.

With Ms. Giglio absent and Mr. Wooten opposed, the board lacked three votes.

[email protected]