No. Castle Chief Files Claim Alleging Corruption By Goldberg, Lieutenant

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North Castle Police Chief Geoffrey Harisch
North Castle Police Chief Geoffrey Harisch

North Castle Police Chief Geoffrey Harisch intends to sue the town and recently rehired administrator Joan Goldberg for attempting to destroy his career after he exposed corrupt practices in the department by a longtime lieutenant.

In a 17-page notice of claim filed on Thursday and filled with explosive allegations, the chief charged that Goldberg sought to exert her power by overlooking rampant overtime abuses in the department allowed by Lt. William Fisher.

By ignoring the abuses, which Harisch brought to Goldberg’s attention in December 2012, according to the claim, she would have an ally in the department since Fisher was due to be named provisional chief last January following the retirement of former longtime chief Robert D’Angelo.

“Respondent Goldberg befriended the provisional chief knowing, she would be able to use the damning information she had obtained about him when she saw fit,” Harisch’s claim read. “The benefits, however, were a two-way street. It also helped the provisional chief that he had the Town Administrator as an ally.”

Among the benefits Goldberg supposedly reaped was the use of a fully equipped police vehicle to drive to Buffalo for a professional conference last July. The vehicle was taken without town board approval, Harisch charged in the claim.

The document, which never mentions Fisher by name, also charged that Goldberg sought to prevent Harisch from taking the chief’s position even though he was the only one of the department’s lieutenants who passed the chief’s exam administered by the county. Harisch took over as chief last August.

When that attempt failed, she looked to make the job as unattractive as possible by offering Harisch, a 26-year department veteran, a lowball salary, disparaged his qualifications and attempted to convince the town board to create a police commissioner’s position, which would install Fisher as Harisch’s superior, the claim stated.

Shortly before her termination last month, the claim also stated that Goldberg sent an unauthorized letter to the county to allow the town to participate in this year’s chief exam. Her letter informed the county that Harisch did not plan to stay in the position, the notice of claim read, but former Supervisor Howard Arden learned of the letter and scrambled to cancel the town’s participation in the exam before leaving office last month.

Goldberg was fired by the previous town board on Dec. 20 after about 15 months on the job amid allegations of misconduct. She was rehired on Jan. 8 by the new board after officials announced that two investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing.

In a statement released on Friday, North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the board convened a special emergency meeting Thursday night and adjourned into executive session.

“We thoroughly reviewed the matter with the Town Attorney and took the decisive action to refer the matter to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office,” Schiliro’s statement read. “The Town Board cannot comment any further at this time.”

Harisch declined to answer questions but on Friday released his own prepared statement assuring the public that the department will continue to serve the town at a high level. It also mentioned that morale within the department is high and that overtime expenses have been slashed since he took over as chief.

“The legal claim that I have initiated, after a great deal of thought, has nothing to do with the past egregious abuses within the Police Department,” Harisch’s statement said. “The reason for my legal claim is because of the misconduct of one particular person who bullied me and threatened my career, and a Board who turned a blind eye to her actions and hastily re-hired her despite disturbing information brought to their attention.  My legal claim will not affect the quality of life of residents or public safety in our community.”

The claim is the latest controversy to dog Goldberg. Former town comptroller Faith Berland filed a complaint with the town against Goldberg late last year alleging she was bullied and harassed by the administrator. A racial discrimination complaint has also been filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing Goldberg of harassing court clerk Nancy Hall and refusing to hire Hall’s husband when he applied for a seasonal parks job.


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