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Ex-North Castle Police Chief Sues Administrator, Claims Retaliation

North Castle Town Administrator Joan Goldberg.
North Castle Town Administrator Joan Goldberg. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

ARMONK, N.Y. -- Former North Castle Police Chief Geoffrey Harisch is suing Town Administrator Joan Goldberg, claiming she retaliated against him for bringing to her attention corruption in the Police Department. Harisch also names the town and the Town Board as co-defendants, accusing them of sweeping corruption under the rug.

In the nearly 80-page complaint , filed on Nov. 19 in the state Supreme Court in White Plains, Harisch claims the retaliation included compensation that was not commensurate with the chief’s post. This reduced package, he argues, was slightly above what a detective sergeant would receive, and lacked paid sick days and paid vacation. He claims that Goldberg denied him use of a take-home emergency police vehicle, which he contends his predecessors and successor were allowed.

Harisch alleges that Goldberg improperly withheld reimbursement pay for mileage and taking training session. He also contends there was retaliation because he filed a notice of claim – the document is a written intention to pursue litigation – in January against the three parties, and because he cooperated with the Westchester County District Attorney’s office while it was inquiring into corruption. The DA’s office did not prosecute, according to the lawsuit, because of the amount of time that passed.

Harisch, who resigned from his post in May and returned to his previous lieutenant’s position, claims that he was forced out. His complaint recaps a public statement he made at a Town Board meeting with some of his allegations.

In alleging corruption, Harisch accuses William Fisher, a former lieutenant who preceded him by serving as provisional chief in 2013, of engaging in overtime theft. Fisher is accused by Harisch of, among other things, recording having worked when he did not, going to a Hudson Valley Renegades baseball game during his regular tour, and getting paid while working at a construction company that he owns.

In the suit, Fisher is often referred to by title rather than by name, with mentions of the latter in reproductions of documentation.

Harisch alleges that he informed Goldberg about police department corruption at a December 2012 meeting, including pertaining to Fisher. However, he argues that his past could serve as leverage for Goldberg.

Harisch then alleges there was a two-way street between Fisher and Goldberg. For example, he claims she was allowed to use a police vehicle for a trip to Buffalo without Town Board approval.

Before his August 2013 appointment as chief, Harisch claims there was an unsuccessful attempt by Goldberg to elevate Fisher to a proposed police commissioner position, which he claims would be illegal since it involves a sitting member of the police department.

Harisch claims that $15,000 of leave pay was withheld from Fisher, who resigned in April, following a town inquiry. He alleges the Town Board did not make this matter public at a meeting when it approved the pay. Harisch also claims that requests for an audit of police department records were not acted on.

Harisch left the post in May to resume being a lieutenant, citing PBA protection. He argues that Goldberg has continued to act against him, alleging that in October she reduced his vacation days and sick leave.

Additionally, he recaps the previous Town Board’s December 2013 firing of Goldberg, who was rehired weeks later by a mostly new board. Prior coverage of Goldberg's dismissal and reinstatement is available here and here.

Harisch is seeking an unspecified amount in damages and attorney fees from the defendants.

A voice mail recording for Goldberg explains that she is on vacation and will return Dec. 1.

Supervisor Michael Schiliro and Town Attorney Roland Baroni could not be reached for comment.

A copy of Harisch's lawsuit is available here. ?

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