Unscrupulous conduct or gross dereliction of duty warrants the removal of an officer of a town, village and other political subdivisions of the State pursuant to Public Officers Law §36
2015 NY Slip Op 02815, Appellate Division, Third Department
Public Officers Law §36 provides that certain officers of a political division of the State may be removed from his or her office for misconduct, maladministration, malfeasance or malversation in office. Loosely defined, these terms are used to describe, respectively,  acting unlawfully;  administer or manage badly or inefficiently;  commission of an act that is unequivocally illegal; and  corrupt behavior while serving in a position of trust.
In this action to remove a public officer from his positions with a Village the Appellate Division explained that “To warrant removal, an official's misconduct must amount to more than minor violations and must consist of "self-dealing, corrupt activities, conflict of interest, moral turpitude, intentional wrongdoing or violation of a public trust” constituting "unscrupulous conduct or gross dereliction of duty or conduct that . . . connotes a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority."
Residents of the Village commenced this proceeding in the Appellate Division*seeking to remove the incumbent [Officer] from the public offices of Mayor and Village Manager pursuant to Public Officers Law §36. When Officer moved to dismiss the petition the court denied the motion. The Appellate Division then referred the matter to a Referee to conduct a hearing and report his findings and recommendations to the court.
In the course of the hearing the residents offered testimony from a Village Trustee, an Assistant District Attorney, two Village police officers and a Village employee, as well as submitting affidavits and other evidence to support their allegations. In contrast, Officer, who was present and was represented by counsel during the hearing, offered no testimony or evidence on his own behalf.
Ultimately the Referee issued a report recommending the removal of Officer from his positions. When the residents moved to confirm the Referee's report, Officer cross-moved to disconfirm the report and dismiss the petition.
The Appellate Division confirmed the Referee's report, concluding that Officer’s conduct warranted his removal from the offices of Mayor and Village Administrator pursuant to Public Officers Law §36. The court commented that Officer’s actions "rise to the level of 'unscrupulous conduct or gross dereliction of duty or conduct that connotes a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority.’"
* §36 provides, in pertinent part, that an application for such removal “may be made by any citizen resident of such town, village, improvement district or fire district … and shall be made to the appellate division of the supreme court held within the judicial department embracing such town, village, improvement district or fire district.”
The decision, which sets out the acts or omissions alleged to warrant Officer’s removal from office are set out in the decision of the Appellate Division which is posted on the Internet at:
The Discipline Book - A concise guide to disciplinary actions involving public officers and employees in New York State set out in a 2100+ page e-book. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/5215.html