By Jano Tantongco
The Town of Huntington’s case against Councilman Eugene Cook was dismissed Monday, before it even reached trial.
The town alleged that unauthorized alterations were made to an East Northport property owned by Cook’s company, TGJ 2014 LLC, but Suffolk County District Court Judge James Flanagan ruled that the town failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the company owned the 792 Larkfield Road property in East Northport at the time of the alterations, according to Mary Porter, a county courts spokeswoman.
The town issued two summonses last year on the five-family home for alleged alterations to a staircase without a permit or a certificate of occupancy.
Porter added that, in the audio recording of the court proceeding, the town’s special counsel on the case, Edward Guardaro, presented screenshots of the New York State Division of Corporations’ website as evidence of TGJ’s ownership of the property.
Flanagan said he typically receives a certified deed to prove ownership in such instances, according to a report published by Newsday.
There is a listing for the deed filed on Oct. 15, 2014, which lists former owner Carmen Tomeo as a grantor, and TGJ 2014 LLC as the grantee, according to Suffolk County Clerk records that are accessible online.
Josh Price, a Commack attorney, was formerly a co-owner of TGJ, but said Wednesday that he sold his interest in the company earlier this year. Price did not represent the LLC in the case, but said that, as a trial attorney, he would normally submit the deed in such a case.
He asserted that the work was performed on the staircase before TGJ acquired the property.
“What the attorney failed to do was prove that TGJ owned the property, period,” Price said.
Price claimed the town knew it couldn’t win the case. He alleged that the case was made by town officials in an effort to harm Cook’s name. He speculated that Guardaro failed to even try to prove “the most basic elements of the case” so that the case would be thrown out before TGJ was able to have its say.
“I think it’s indicative of the fact that this was all just done so there would be negative articles written about Mr. Cook and his partners in the newspaper,” Price added.
Guardaro could not be reached for comment before deadline Wednesday.
Cook, who could not be reached for comment before deadline Wednesday, previously told Long Islander News that the case was brought on by the town board as “political payback” for his initiation of a state comptroller’s audit of the town in 2013. That was also the same year Cook made a bid to unseat Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone.
Cook has previously said that he and his partners were not aware of code violations at the time of the
The property in question predates the 1934 establishment of town code, according to a 1997 letter-in-lieu from the town board, as previously reported by The Long Islander.
The home, however, is zoned for single-family residential use.
A.J. Carter, town spokesman, reached via email Wednesday declined to comment on the case.