The Truth Hurts

The truth about Paul Pontieri's illegal gas use.

Regarding the Mayor’s [Paul Pontieri] taking of gas, there can be no dispute whatsoever that it is illegal and unauthorized. 

In 1977, the New York State Comptroller’s office rendered an official decision directly on point which clearly states that under no circumstances may a Mayor take gasoline from a village gas pump when operating a private car. See NYS Comptroller’s Decision 77-208.  That has been the law for at least 35 years.

Mayor Pontieri continues with his tradition of making excuses, misrepresentations, and justifications for his illegal conduct. In his letter, the Mayor asserts that McGiff assigned gas keys to village employees. The truth is that the Mayor assigned keys to these individuals. He also states that McGiff approved a member of the building department to drive his son to school in Riverhead.

Let us be clear; if we were to receive any information that any employees had engaged in illegal activities, we would immediately take appropriate action. For the Mayor to suggest that we would give approval for a village employee to commit a crime is absurd and an outright fabrication. When questioned about this at the board meeting of January 23, Mr. Pontieri refused to discuss the matter.

There can be no doubt that Mr. Pontieri is purposely and continuously making false statements in order to mislead Village residents. In a recent correspondence our Mayor attempts to discredit our findings as “conveniently timed” to further our “distorted political agenda.” By our mayor’s admission his access key and pin were issued by the Village treasurer. Our internal auditors recognized and alerted the Board of Trustees of a severe flaw in the fueling system. The mayor’s personal vehicle was never authorized by the board to have access to Village fuel.

Pontieri claims that his taking of gas was “an acceptable practice for decades.” That would not be a defense even if it were true -- it isn’t.  Mayor’s Leavandosky, Keegan, and Ihne all denied taking gas from the Village pump to the Advance. Pontieri also tries to justify his conduct by claiming other Mayors got to drive Village owned vehicles.  The Advance reported that Mayors Ihne and Leavandosky did not drive a Village vehicle.  It also reported that while the Village paid for Mayor Keegan’s leased vehicle for 1 year, it should be noted that those lease payments were presented to and approved by the Village Board.

The Mayor’s “apology” rings hollow! In a letter published in the Advance our mayor admits “I do believe there should be more accountability, and if there is any error that I made it was that I should have put in for reimbursement instead of using the Village pumps.” Sadly, in addition to fueling his vehicle at the village pump ,we have found he has abused a credit card he has issued himself. During a ten week period from 4/15/10-7/05/10 while our tanks were being replaced he visited gas stations in the area 19 times! For our Mayor to excuse his behavior, leading us to believe that every gallon burned and every mile driven was for Village business, is an affront to the tax payers of this Village.

According to the law, it’s illegal for the Mayor to take any gasoline – even one gallon -- from the Village pump.   Mayor Pontieri has taken close to 5,000 gallons worth more than $17,000, and he has frequently gasses up 2 or more times per week.  In addition to this, he was charging gas on a Village credit card.  He has done all of this without Village Board knowledge or approval, and in violation of clearly defined laws.

One example taken from the voluminous Village gas records, records we spent countless hours reviewing, illustrates the depth and audacity of Mr. Pontieri’s abuse.  From April 21, 2008, through April 29, 2008, Paul Pontieri accessed the gas pump 5 times in 8 days, taking 66 gallons of gasoline.   He could have driven more than 1,000 miles on that amount of gasoline.  On other occasions, during summer months, he has taken an amount of gasoline consistent with filling up a portable gas can.  It is obvious from these records that he has been gassing up more than just his own vehicle.[i]

The NYS Penal law makes it a crime to steal property.  NYS Penal Law §155.25.  A person steals property when he wrongfully takes or obtains property from an owner (in this case the owner of the gasoline is the Village of Patchogue – the taxpayers).  NYS Penal Law §155.05.  Stealing becomes grand larceny, a felony, when the amount stolen exceeds $1,000.00. Penal Law 155.30.

During the past eight years we have travelled to and from countless meetings, conferences and seminars related to Village business. As trustees representing the residents of this Village over the past eight years, we have never, not once accessed the Village pumps.

In our official capacity we have requested authorities to investigate Mr. Pontieri’s taking of gasoline.  We are renewing and maintaining our strong belief that Mr. Pontieri should resign his office immediately.

Respectfully Submitted
Stephen J. McGiff                                          Gerard J. Crean


[i]  All of these figures can be confirmed by viewing the records which have been uploaded by Patchogue Patch, in a link provided in a story about the Mayor’s gassing at the Village pump.  You can also request these records at Village Hall.  The Mayor’s PIN number is 4762.   There are other PIN numbers for village employees gas use listed in the records.  We did not include those in our calculations.  Mayor Pontieri has acknowledged that he created the gas system that is currently in place, and he has stated that only he has used his PIN number.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

florence casey January 29, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Look at the numbers. For me it's not even about his not getting board approval for his own gas, which is bad enough. It's obvious he was gassing up other vehicles too and probably his lawn mower or snow blower. Look at the mileage. I don't care how many "meetings" this guy had, it's impossible for him to use that much gas. Does he not think we can add?
Daniel Esquire January 29, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Unlike Paul Pontieri, Trustee McGiff has never done anything illegal. You are reaching for straws. Now you are questioning a law in existence for 35 years? Obviously no one has challenged this law since 1977. Only Pontieri would want to abuse the gas and claim it is illegal. Only in Patchogue.
Stinkerbelle January 29, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Mr. Esquire, I believe you mis-spoke yourself. Correct me if I am wrong but I think you meant to write," Only Pontieri would want to abuse the gas and claim it is legal." That aside, nowhere did I challenge the comptroller's opinion. Indeed I think the opinion helped clarify NYS Village Law 5-524(7) that I consider to be "murky". Taking the comptroller's opinion one step further, even if the mayor had put one gallon of gasoline into his private car from the village pump with the full consent, blessing and approval of the board, he still would have been in violation of the law. End of story. Now what the board or any of its members did after gaining knowledge of the violation is another matter. Please read NYS Village Law 4-412(12). It clearly defines what a trustee must do, and when it must be done, in just this kind of situation. Mr. Esquire, I am neither your friend nor foe. It just seems to me that there are procedures in place for any trustee to follow. If they choose not to, they may be subject to removal. Only in Patchogue? I guess if you don't like it here you could always move.
Patchogue Snoop February 28, 2012 at 10:05 PM
JoJoCfe March 08, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Attorney McGiff, I guess the truth does hurt. Like I have said before, "people who live in glass houses, shouldn't throw stones".


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