FISHKILL – Town resident Robert Macavery is suing the Fishkill Town Board, Town Comptroller Sharon Mitchell, and Supervisor Azem “Ozzy” Albra, to prevent the town from reimbursing Albra for legal fees he incurred prior to taking office.
Earlier this month Albra sought to have the town board pass a resolution authorizing a payment to reimburse him for almost $77,000 in legal fees for a lawsuit he began as a private citizen. The background of the lawsuit can be read HERE. The summary of the resolution for reimbursement can be read HERE.
At the November 17 town board meeting, the council learned that Albra, on two occasions, sought reimbursement from the town’s insurance carrier and the claim was denied both times. He then presented a resolution to the council asking them to authorize payment of $76,334.25 directly. After a lengthy debate and public outcry against the proposal, town attorney Brian Nugent, who represented Albra as a private citizen, lobbied for the payment’s authorization. The board went into executive session to discuss the matter privately.
When they returned, they amended the resolution and agreed to pay Albra $68,645.50 of taxpayer dollars.
Macavery said the lawsuit was filed because “I watched the town board on November 17 and I was appalled when the town board agreed to pay the personal legal expenses of Mr. Albra. Something needed to be done to stop that payment and that is why I started this lawsuit.” He is seeking to have the court prevent the payment from being made to Albra.
Three of the current town board members who are allies of Albra lost their re-election in early November and the incoming board members vowed to overturn the November 17 payment authorization.
On the night of the vote, Board Member-elect John Forman, a former county legislator said, “Tonight, the Democrat-controlled town board acted irresponsibly by voting to reimburse Supervisor Albra for legal fees, which date back to December 30, 2019,” he said, while questioning the validity of the legal fees. “There are no invoices from Albra’s attorney to justify any services that may have been provided and the residents in Fishkill deserve much better.”
Forman’s running mate, Carmine Istvan, also spoke at the meeting and said, “If this board fails to fulfill its obligation to guard the town’s funds against abuse, on behalf of the new board members, I pledge to the people of Fishkill when we take our seats in January, we will take all steps necessary to reverse this decision and return the money back to the residence of Fishkill where it belongs.”
Brian Wrye, the third board member-elect weighed in, saying, “The town board acted incorrectly in deciding to refund Supervisor Albra’s personal legal fees. We three newly elected board members are united to rectify the situation.”
Albra and the other respondents were served with the court documents on December 1. Albra did not respond to an inquiry from Mid-Hudson News seeking comment.