A Hicksville attorney has asked the Suffolk County Supreme Court to add Huntington Town Councilman Gene Cook and his partners as defendants in a suit over an East Northport property they own.
John Stravato represents Syosset-based Nemesis of Long Island Corp., which tried to buy the house before it was purchased in September 2014 by TGJ LLC -- named for the first initials of Cook and his partners, Commack attorney Josh Price and Huntington real estate agent Tim Cavanaugh.
After the trio purchased the 2-acre property at 792 Larkfield Rd., the town assigned a special prosecutor in April, who charged TGJ with a violation, alleging work was performed on the house's external stairway without a permit.StoryLegality of town official's property questionedStoryTown files summons against elected officialStoryTrustee tried getting biz partner on board
The house has also been under the scrutiny of the town's building department for several years, with questions about its status as a multifamily dwelling. It is zoned as single family.
Stravato filed a motion dated Sept. 28 asking Supreme Court Justice Denise F. Molia to name Cook, Price and Cavanaugh individually in a suit accusing the sellers -- Mary Ann Dellinger and Carmen Tomeo -- of breach of contract and failing to disclose "violations and defects."
Stravato wants the suit to include allegations that TGJ and the partners unjustly enriched themselves in the deal and that they interfered in the contract between Nemesis and the sellers.
"If hadn't gotten involved, I think it's very likely that we would have ultimately worked it out with the sellers," Stravato said. "We still had a contract."
The sale to Nemesis was supposed to close in July 2013, but the company wanted the sellers to resolve an outstanding violation after town officials told Stravato the condition of the house would prevent the company from using the property. Dellinger and Tomeo did not return the company's $40,000,, according to the suit, and Nemesis took the issue to court.
Nemesis is seeking at least $64,000 in damages, plus fees, court costs and interest from the various parties.
"It's a joke," Price said of the motion to single out the partners. Price, who is representing TGJ in the action, signed an agreement on Nov. 20, 2014, for the company to be a defendant in the case, according to court filings.
Price said TGJ joined the suit because its contract to buy the house included an agreement to pay any judgment against Tomeo and Dellinger resulting from the Nemesis suit. In exchange, TGJ received a $40,000 credit toward the total $400,000 purchase price -- the enrichment Stravato cites in his motion.
Price said the partners became interested in the house in September 2013 when they learned Nemesis was seeking the return of the down payment and was suing. He said the contract "was already breached and interfered with" because the lawsuit had been underway for about a year.
"They would have to prove that we knew there was a contract between Nemesis, Tomeo and Dellinger, and that we intentionally took steps to persuade Tomeo and Dellinger to break the contract," he said.
Stravato said that before Cook and his partners acquired the house, Price contacted him on March 28, 2014, to work out a deal to return the $40,000. At the time, Price did not indicate a personal interest in acquiring the site, Stravato said.
"He knew he was buying a lawsuit," Stravato said.
The parties on the Nemesis case are due back in court on Nov. 13 for a status conference.
TGJ's attorney, Ed Yule of Northport, recently filed a motion to dismiss the Town of Huntington's violation case, citing due process, which gives the prosecution 30 days to be ready for trial. It's been five months since the town filed summonses against TGJ, but the prosecution has not produced its chief witness -- code inspector Lisamarie Walter -- due to unspecified health issues.