The Northern Westchester Examiner

Yorktown Councilmen’s Attempt to Replace Town Attorney Fails

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Yorktown councilmen Tom Diana and Ed Lachterman’s attempt to seek new legal representation for the town following a recent ruling of an ethical complaint they filed against the law firm now employed fell flat last week.

The board engaged in a midnight spat with few spectators remaining in the audience as Lachterman proposed two resolutions: issuing a new RFP for legal services for the town, and having separate counsel for him and Diana, citing no confidence in Attorney Richard Abbate or the Oxman Group..

Diana and Lachterman promised to introduce those resolutions during a press conference October 7 outside Yorktown Town Hall where they chose to publicize an August 14, 2019 decision from the New York State Attorney Grievance Committee that admonished attorney Marc Oxman for dual legal representation.

Oxman’s law firm was awarded a contract for more than $211,000 in January 2018 by the town board in a 3-2 vote to provide legal services. Oxman has not actually served as the town attorney. Instead, one of his attorneys, Abbate, has served in that capacity.

Prior to that appointment, Oxman sued the town board in October 2017 on behalf of resident tax watchdog Ed Ciffone after the board voted to pay $2,500 to Marvin Ray Raskin to represent former Supervisor Michael Grace relating to a grievance that had been filed against him by Susan Siegel, a former supervisor and councilwoman.

At the same time Oxman was representing Ciffone pro bono, Diana and Lachterman maintained Oxman was negotiating with Supervisor-elect Ilan Gilbert to replace Michael McDermott as town attorney since the Democrats held a 3-2 majority on the board.

Oxman, a former town justice in Yorktown, stressed he had never had a complaint filed against him previously in his 50-year legal career and contended the decision from the Grievance Committee was supposed to be private and confidential.

Gilbert, who along with fellow Democratic councilmembers Alice Roker and Vishnu Patel rejected last week’s resolutions by abstaining, further admonished Lachterman and Diana for violating the rules of judicial confidentiality.

“I refuse to vote on a resolution filled with untruths and false innuendos. It’s a calculated character assassination and appears to be politically motivated,” Gilbert remarked. “There was no conflict when the firm was hired. There has been no public censure of Mr. Oxman or the Oxman law firm.”

Lachterman and Diana said they felt obligated to go public with the committee’s ruling since Oxman did not inform the town himself.

“I chose to give up my confidentiality. This is something our town deserves to know. The complaint was brought for a reason,” he said, while also telling Gilbert, “You just want to cover it up, roll it all up in a rug and drop it.”

Roker responded, “I’m not hiding anything. I will not sit here though and give the world fodder. I believe Marc’s firm is held in high regard in Westchester County.”

Gilbert noted Oxman’s firm has recently helped Yorktown collect more than $400,000 of the $2.9 million owed from residents in delinquent property taxes.

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