The Examiner

Ex-North Castle Chief Files Lawsuit Against Goldberg, Town

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Former North Castle police chief and current Lt. Geoffrey Harisch.
Former North Castle police chief and current Lt. Geoffrey Harisch.

A lawsuit filed last week on behalf of former North Castle Police Chief Geoffrey Harisch alleges that Town Administrator Joan Goldberg retaliated against him after he tried to expose police overtime abuses within the department.

The 79-page complaint filed Nov. 19 in state Supreme Court in White Plains, names Goldberg, the town and the North Castle Town Board as defendants. The suit contends the administrator used various tactics such as reducing Harisch’s pay and trying to create the position of police commissioner so Harisch would have a superior when it was apparent he would be the next police chief.

“This case is about a rogue Town Administrator’s malicious efforts to destroy the business reputation of a highly respected Chief of Police and violate his Constitutional right to speak freely without fear of retaliation,” the suit’s preliminary statement mentioned.

It also implicates “a novice Town Board that negligently rehired” Goldberg after her December 2013 termination and later reappointed her despite its knowledge of her repeated egregious misconduct.

Filing of the lawsuit comes 10 months after the notice of claim was submitted detailing Goldberg’s alleged misconduct and how she ignored Harisch’s documentation of overtime abuses, primarily by longtime lieutenant and ex-provisional chief William Fisher.

However, the lawsuit also charges that the mistreatment of Harisch and the pattern of covering up prior overtime abuses continued this year. Harisch, who was appointed chief in August 2013, returned to his union-protected lieutenant’s position within the one-year probationary period.

Jason Berland, the attorney representing Harisch in the matter, declined to make further comments. Goldberg and North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro also made no comments.

On Tuesday, a prepared statement from Harisch explained why the 27-year department veteran went ahead with filing the suit.

“This lawsuit, unfortunately, was necessary to protect me from the continued harassment and retaliation I have endured over the past year-and-a-half from Joan Goldberg – all with the Town Board’s knowledge and acquiescence,” Harisch’s statement read. “Joan Goldberg has continued to target me even after I stepped down to the union protected position of lieutenant, compelling the PBA to file grievances on my behalf.  The only place for me to find refuge and seek true justice now is in a court of law.”

The suit contends the now-retired Fisher, who in his role as lieutenant had been in charge of officers’ schedules, “had accumulated and recorded hundreds of hours of personal compensatory over-time, many times without any auditable explanation of how he accrued that time and in direct violation” of department procedures.

The document alleges that in February 2014 the current town board refused to meet with Harisch to discuss years’ worth of allegations. Furthermore, Goldberg is accused in the suit of refusing to authorize payments of undisclosed amounts of compensatory overtime Harisch previously accrued, even though the former chief met with Schiliro and reached an understanding of his level of compensation.

A PBA grievance was filed on Harisch’s behalf last February.

The suit alleges, the town board “wanted to see Harisch punished” for filing his notice of claim in January.

The defendants will have 20 days to respond once they are served with the suit.



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