FISHKILL – Town Councilman Carmine Istvan is pushing to have the town’s insurance carrier reimburse the taxpayers for Fishkill Town Supervisor Ozzy Albra’s legal fees. In December, the previous town board authorized reimbursement to Albra for $68,645.50 in legal fees related to lawsuits he was involved in before becoming town supervisor.
Albra had originally sought reimbursement from the town’s insurance carrier on two occasions but was denied. The prior board, at Albra’s urging, used taxpayer dollars for the reimbursement.
Istvan, along with new board members John Forman and Brian Wrye, spoke out against the board’s decision to repay Albra in November. Istvan, during the November meeting, told the outgoing board members, “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 residents of Fishkill where it belongs.”
Istvan plans to ask the town’s law firm, Drake Loeb, to appeal the insurance carrier’s denial of Albra’s claim for reimbursement. “I am going to ask counsel on Wednesday night to negotiate with our carrier to reverse their denial,” Istvan told Mid-Hudson News. “The taxpayers are now paying for lawsuits that should be paid for by the carrier and we will try to get the money back on behalf of our residents.”
Albra provided 29 pages of legal invoices from his attorneys, Denlea & Carton, to the town comptroller on December 6 for reimbursement. On December 7, an account clerk for the town prepared the check payable to Albra. The check was signed by Town Clerk Rebecca Tompkins, rather than Comptroller Sharon Mitchell. The comptroller declined to say why she had refused to sign the check for Albra.
A review of the legal bills by Mid-Hudson News indicated that most were unusual, except for the July 13, 2020 statement that documented legal work that occurred almost two weeks after the invoice was prepared. The ill-prepared invoice was for $13,825. The law firm applied the balance of Albra’s retainer of $13,127.50, leaving a balance of $697.50. It was noted that many invoices show the use of retainer funds that were replenished at various times, but no statement shows that date or the amount of the replenishment.