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December 09, 2015

Public Officers Law §36 provides for the removal of an individual from public office for self-dealing, corrupt activities, conflict of interest, moral turpitude, intentional wrongdoing or violation of a public trust


Public Officers Law §36 provides for the removal of an individual from public office for self-dealing, corrupt activities, conflict of interest, moral turpitude, intentional wrongdoing or violation of a public trust
Libordi v Isaman, 2015 NY Slip Op 08552, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

Francis Libordi initiated an action in the Appellate Division, 4th Department, pursuant §36 of the Public Officers Law in an effort to have Kenneth Isaman, a public officer, removed from his position of Town Supervisor of the Town of Hornellsville.*

Libordi alleged that Isaman had been involved in “self-dealing” and had a conflict of interest arising from his employment by an insurance agency that did business with the Town while serving as Town Supervisor. The Appellate Division said that Isaman "conclusively refuted those allegations” and that Libordi failed to present evidence to raise a triable issue of fact with respect to such allegations.

Libordi also alleged another conflict of interest in that Isaman voted at Town Board meetings in favor of appointing his wife to positions with the Town Board, and approving the salaries for her positions.

Noting "[R]emoval from office pursuant to Public Officers Law §36 is an extreme remedy reserved for officials engaged in self-dealing, corrupt activities, conflict of interest, moral turpitude, intentional wrongdoing or violation of a public trust," the court said that [1] Isaman admitted that he should have abstained from those votes and [2] his failure to do so "does not constitute the type of conduct that would warrant removal from office."

The court then unanimously dismissed Libordi’s action.

* Any citizen resident in the jurisdiction, or the appropriate district attorney, may file an application seeking the removal of a public officer enumerated in §36 of the Public Officers Law with the Appellate Division in the appropriate judicial department. §36 requires that a copy of the application and the charges upon which the application is to be made must be served upon the officer at least 8 days prior to such filing. 

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