By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO October 29, 2002 For the last several months, the Monticello Police Department has been mired in controversy. Concerns have swirled around an investigation into the department by the New York State Attorney Generals (AG) Office, centering on Monticello Police Chief Michael Brennan and Head of Detectives Michael Bunce.
The latest twist happened Friday, when it was announced that both Brennan and Bunce are retiring.
Both men were investigated by the AGs office on suspicion of misconduct and illegal use of police equipment. Both have a process-serving business that they operate when not working as police officers. However, it was alleged that they did this business while on police time and using police equipment.
During the investigation, no one in the village was contacted for information, said village officials. It took several months before Village Mayor Gary Sommers got confirmation that the AGs office was investigating the officers. He also found out that the charges, if filed, would have been misdemeanors. With no concrete information released, rumors ran rampant throughout the village on what was going on.
An emergency Village Board meeting was called on Friday evening to discuss a personnel matter regarding particular persons. In attendance were Sullivan County District Attorney Stephen Lungen and the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office, Mary Kavaney.
Sommers started the meeting by immediately calling for an executive session and invited Lungen and Kavaney to join them.
After about half an hour, Lungen and Kavaney came upstairs while the board continued to meet. Neither Lungen nor Kavaney would offer comment on the situation. Approximately 20 minutes later, the board came back, and the meeting was reconvened.
Sommers announced that both Brennan and Bunce had submitted their retirement letters, effective November 1. The board appointed Lt. Doug Solomon as Interim Chief until November 1. After November 1, the job becomes permanent.
Comment could only be gained from one board member, who spoke for the entire board.
It is a natural fit, commented Village Board member David Rosenberg. When Doug made lieutenant, we knew, when Mike retired, he would be the successor. We are 100 percent behind him. We will help him. We have great confidence in Doug.
Then Rosenberg addressed the situation with the police.
The department is like a family that has been through hard times. It will take a long time for those wounds to heal, Rosenberg said. This is a sad day with the retirements of two fine officers. You can draw your own conclusions. They are good men. Maybe they did some things they shouldnt have done. Still, we owe them a debt of gratitude.
With that, the meeting ended. The sparse crowd and the board congratulated Solomon and wished him luck.
Neither Brennan, Bunce or their lawyer, Henri Shawn, could be reached for comment.
However, the mayor offered his thoughts yesterday morning.
David summed it up well, Sommers stated. They [Brennan and Bunce] gave us a lot of good years. They opted to retire, and there will be a void to fill. I have all the confidence in Doug, and he will do a good job.
Then Sommers turned his thoughts to the AGs office.
They never spoke to anyone in the village, he said. I am a little disappointed that they did not speak to us or come to us.