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Move to shift suit involving ex-Suffolk ethics chair to Nassau

The Suffolk County Attorney has moved to switch the county’s $23,000 lawsuit against Alfred Lama, the former ethics commission executive director, to a Nassau County court.

The motion was made by assistant county attorney Elaine Barraga after she claimed Lama’s attorney’s papers indicated he had once served as a state Supreme Court justice in Suffolk County.

Robert Connolly, Lama’s attorney, said their papers for dismissal stated Lama was a former state Supreme Court justice but made no mention of where he served. He also noted that Lama, 79, has been off the bench for 16 years. However, Lama’s law firm, a powerhouse in Nassau GOP politics, made no objection to Barraga’s move.

Comptroller Joseph Sawicki called the switch to Nassau “critical” to prevent even the perception of bias. “The appearance of impropriety would have been unavoidable if the county was forced to litigate before Lama’s former peers,” the comptroller said.

The county’s lawsuit comes after Sawicki issued an audit which found that Lama, but owed $8,209 in wages because he was incorrectly treated as management as well as $14,685 for health benefits to which he was not entitled because he did not work enough hours during many pay periods.

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