Police lieutenant gets cash payout

Southampton Town Police Settle Suit

Cash Award To Cop

A member of the Southampton Town Police force has been awarded a cash payout as the result of a civil suit against the town. It’s the third time a settlement favorable to police has been revealed in recent months.

Lt. James Kiernan, a central figure in a scandal that resulted in a Suffolk County District Attorney investigation against the town, settled for $185,000, a pay increase, extra sick days, and a promotion.

He was targeted after The Street Crimes Prevention Unit he ran came under investigation. Kiernan was accused of covering up the fact that Patrolman Eric Sickles was allowed to remain on active duty despite developing a drug problem.

Kiernan, a longtime Republican committeeman, became a pawn in a game of political chess between a candidate for police chief, Billy Wilson, and members of the Southampton Town Board led by Chris Nuzzi, who was not in favor of hiring Wilson in 2011.

Wilson accused Kiernan of covering up for Sickles: Kiernan said Wilson targeted him for discipline because he refused to support Wilson when he was seeking the top job.

Kiernan was suspended at the time but returned to active duty six months later. “The Kiernan disciplinary case was settled with a plea agreement that was acceptable to all parties and was approved by the town board,” said Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at the time. The two sides agreed on a “fair penalty,” she added.

District attorney investigators raided the police department record rooms after the Sickles controversy. Three convicted felons were released from jail, their sentences overturned, after it was determined Sickles may have given tainted testimony.

But Kiernan did not agree to end the matter there. He filed suit in 2014, alleging he was punished for his political activities and that the suspension cost him a promotion and caused him embarrassment. The two sides hammered out an agreement on September 21. Kiernan had sought $7.5 million.

Kiernan’s case is not the only one to result in a payout. Two female officers on the force have received raises and payouts after complaining they said they were illegally passed over for promotions.

Lt. Susan Ralph sued the town, former Chief Robert Pearce and Kiernan in 2015, alleging that, among other complaints, she was removed from job responsibilities and passed over for promotions in favor of male officers. She was awarded $120,000; one-time credits for 59 days of sick time and seven vacation days; use of a town-owned police vehicle when approved by the police chief; and department recommendation to apply for the FBI Academy training in Quantico, VA.

In 2017, Sergeant Lisa Costa settled a gender discrimination suit against the town and was awarded $300,000. As was the case with Kiernan, the town was reluctant and had to be prodded to make details public, though law requires it.

It’s A . . . Plane

Pedestrians on Montauk Highway in East Moriches were stunned to see something heading their way around noon on Saturday — and it wasn’t a bird or Superman.

Suffolk County Police said Nedie Seidu, 30, of Manhattan was flying Warrior II from Republic Airport in East Farmingdale to Lufker Airport nearby when he overshot his runway at about 12:15 PM on Saturday, October 20, and was unable to stop the plane on the runway. The plane hit the ground, skipped, and was headed for a mini-mall when it struck a traffic sign just short of a utility pole. Seidu escaped injury.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com