The Putnam Examiner

Philipstown Justice to Step Down Amid Judicial Complaints

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A longtime Town of Philipstown judge, who faced judicial complaints, is resigning from his position, officials announced Thursday.

Alan Steiner, who is the Philipstown justice and acting Village of Cold Spring justice, has notified town and village officials of his intent to step down on September 20 according to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. After he leaves office, he has also agreed to never seek or accept judicial office again, according to the commission.

As town justice since 2000, his current term was set to expire at the end of this year.

The state commission notified Steiner, a Garrison resident, in April of this year that it was investigating him over complaints levied against him. One complaint is that he used his Facebook account to engage in direct or indirect political activity, which judges are prohibited from doing. He also failed to announce a decision for more than year in a small claims case and failed to timely complete required Continuing Judicial Education (CLE) for the years 2010, 2011, and 2014.

Steiner has since completed his CLE requirements and removed all commentary from his Facebook account, according to the commission.

Steiner had also faced heat as chairman of the nonprofit The Preservation Company in Peekskill, which received a federal grant and then doled it out to Peekskill Deputy Mayor Drew Claxton and her son in 2007. Claxton wasn’t entitled to get grant money as an elected official in the city.

In his July 27 letter to Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea, Steiner gave several reasons why he was going to resign, though he didn’t mention the state investigation. Prior to the letter, he already decided not to seek reelection.

His main reason was his wife had just undergone brain surgery and is anticipating a long recovery period. Steiner wrote he also hasn’t been able to render decisions in a timely fashion and stay updated on his Continuing Legal Education and by stepping down he would be allowed to be more vocal in the political process.

“I have cherished the time I have spent in service to the community,” Steiner wrote.

His attorney, Deborah Scalise, issued a statement stressing his “resignation is not a consequence of the pending charges, but due to a planned retirement.”

“Judge Steiner notes that he fully cooperated with the commission’s investigation and that the stipulation makes no findings with respect to the allegations,” Scalise said. “Judge Steiner agreed to conclude this process with the understanding that the stipulation is not an admission or concession of guilt. Judge Steiner will continue his participation in bar association and other community activities in the future.”

Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina filed a complaint earlier this year against Steiner for professional misconduct and damaging his reputation with remarks made over the state grant toward The Preservation Company. The judicial commission dismissed the complaints a few months after they were filed.

Nevertheless, Catalina took the opportunity on Facebook last week to slam Steiner.

“I think they call this chickens coming home to roost! No surprise to me; this guy has been dirty and political for a long, long time – before AND after becoming a judge! Another clear reason attorney’s involved in POLITICS should never be appointed as a Judge especially as a political favor!,” Catalina stated. “As for Alan Steiner, he rides off in complete and utter disgrace winning the title: “First Philipstown Judge to Resign in Disgrace under Threat of Removal”; and believe me, resignation only happens just before the big boot kicks you out. Hopefully, The Preservation Company (still reeling from paying back Claxton’s dirty loan / grant to the State and not receiving further grants through the City) will retain competent counsel without a political ax to grind and who is not ethically challenged.”

Rick Pezzullo contributed to this article

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