Well-Known Attorney Could Sue Ilion Over Fire Dept. Controversy
The attorney for the disciplined Deputy Fire Chief in the Village of Ilion has put the mayor and village on notice after it "wrongly placed" him "on administrative leave without explanation as to what law, policy or procedure he has violated," according to the court filing. WIBX obtained a copy of the letter sent to the village and Mayor Lamica.
The letter establishes that Attorney Anthony Brindisi, former Congressman in NY-22, has been hired by Deputy Chief Michael Conover, and demands that the mayor and village turn over copies of any and all complaints that have been made against Conover. Brindisi also demanded any and all investigations, including but not limited to written statements, into any alleged complaint against the Deputy Chief, along with copies of any policies/procedures alleged to have been violated.
Recently, Mayor Brian Lamica and Deputy Mayor Chuck Lester confirmed that changes were made in the leadership of the fire department, and that an investigation by police is underway, but both declined to confirm specifics. "Based upon receipt of the Complaint, the Village has undertaken a comprehensive review and investigation of the operations of the Fire Department. As a result of the ongoing investigation, changes are being made and contemplated to ensure Village residents’ safety and the propriety of Village operations," said Mayor Lamica in a release to WIBX.
Fire Chief Tom Pedersen, who was appointed chief in 2019, was relieved of his duties and 2 other firefighters, including Conover, had been disciplined.
Brindisi's court filing requested that the Village provide him with "copies of any written
notifications" informing him that he is a potential subject of disciplinary action, as outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. "Please provide me with a date when my client will be interviewed as part of your investigation and the end date for the conclusion of your investigation," according to the document.
"Additionally, I am hereby notifying you to immediately cease and desist from making any further public comments about my client that have the potential to injure Mr. Conover's reputation or his profession as a fire fighter. Your statements about Mr. Conover have caused him actual harm and emotional distress and include impairment of his reputation and standing in the community, personal humiliation and mental anguish and suffering," the statement read.
Brindisi's claim notified the mayor and the Village that Conover would like to return to his job at the fire department, but that he was giving them 7 days to publicly retract any negative statements made to the news media or on social media. Brindisi is demanding "full retraction of any and all defamatory statements made against Michael Conover to news agencies and/ or other outlets, including social media, within seven days from the date of this letter," or he intends to pursue a defamation case against the village and would seek "compensatory and punitive damages."
WIBX reached out to village officials and was told by Deputy Mayor Lester that the village would not comment. We also reached out to attorney Anthony Brindisi and are waiting for a response.