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June 7, 2012

Police officer dismissed after being found guilty of serving as an active volunteer firefighter while on GML §207-c leave

Police officer dismissed after being found guilty of serving as an active volunteer firefighter while on GML §207-c leave
Kaufman v Wells, 56 AD3d 674

A disciplinary hearing officer found Steve Kaufman guilty of 42 of 122 specifications of misconduct filed against him, which ultimately resulted in Kaufman’s being terminated from his position with the Town of New Castle Police Department.

New Castle, among other things, charged that Kaufman, while on leave pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c, participated in activities as a volunteer firefighter “which demonstrated his ability to work a light-duty assignment for the police department.”

Kaufman filed an Article 78 action to review New Castle’s determination.

The Appellate Division said that "Judicial review of an administrative determination made after a hearing required by law, and at which evidence was taken, is limited to whether that determination is supported by substantial evidence."

In this instance the court found that the Town Board's determination that Kaufman was guilty of the specified acts of misconduct was supported by substantial evidence.

In addition, said the court, "[a]n administrative penalty must be upheld unless it is so disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness,' thus constituting an abuse of discretion as a matter of law," citing Kreisler v New York City Transit Authority, 2 NY3d 775.”

The Appellate Division concluded that ”Considering the repeated and numerous acts of misconduct, and the serious nature of the acts, it cannot be concluded, as a matter of law, that the penalty of [termination] shocks the judicial conscience."

Finally, the court said that “there is substantial evidence in the record to support the hearing officer's determination” that the disciplinary charges were not preferred against Kaufman in retaliation for his commencement of a civil action against the Town and members of the police department.

The full text of the decision is posted on the Internet at:


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