By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO June 3, 2005 Charges were filed last week by Sullivan County against Sullivan County Department of Public Works Director of Operations/Deputy Commissioner Phil Nicoletti and Director of Parks, Recreation and Beautification Richard Caraluzzo.
County officials released the info but refused to disclose the details of the charges. Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham said a Freedom of Information Act would have to be made and sent to Sullivan County Attorney Sam Yasgur for review.
On Wednesday, Sullivan County Assistant Attorney Cheryl McCausland, after speaking with Yasgur, denied the information request. McCausland called the documents containing the charges confidential and cannot be disclosed. No written denial was given as of press time.
A hearing has reportedly been scheduled in front of a hearing officer from Westchester County, selected by Sullivan Co. Manager Dan Briggs. The officer will make recommendations to the new commissioner of the DPW or Briggs, who will determine the final disciplinary action.
Briggs is currently acting commissioner of the DPW with Harvey Smith, the Commissioner of General Services, and John Kehlenbeck, the Director of Solid Waste Management, helping to run the landfill operations. Briggs has also brought in Richard Meyers, a consultant who formerly worked for the dept., to assist on a part-time basis.
Briggs, Cunningham and county legislators have remained steadfastly quiet on the situation. They have refused to disclose any details of the investigation or the charges.
Rumors have abounded as to the nature of the charges, ranging from tampering with equipment to theft of county property to accessing private information illegally.
Four DPW employees in total have been classified as under investigation by Briggs and Cunningham for over three months. The other two are former DPW Commissioner Peter Lilholt and DPW Senior Fiscal Administrative Officer Amy Winters.
Lilholt retired on February 25, the same day Nicoletti was placed on paid administrative leave. At the time, Nicolettis salary was $75,606 and Lilholts was $83,249. Lilholt currently receives a pension.
In March, Caraluzzo was also placed on paid administrative leave. His salary was $58,934. Winters was on maternity leave but on April 18 was placed on paid administrative leave. Her salary is $58,503.
On May 24, charges were filed against Nicoletti, and he was put on a 30-day suspension without pay beginning May 26 as per New York State Civil Service Law, while he awaits a hearing.
Charges were brought against Caraluzzo on May 27, and he was placed on a 30-day suspension without pay.