Ex-fire commissioner refunds disability payments

The South Farmingdale Fire Department includes Engine Company The South Farmingdale Fire Department includes Engine Company No. 1, Engine Company No. 2, Truck Company No. 1 and a Junior Program that help to protect the Farmingdale community. (July 5, 2011) Photo Credit: Alexi Knock

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A former South Farmingdale fire commissioner found in court to have improperly taken disability benefits has paid back the $18,060 he collected from the district.

Richard Bylicki, 54, who lost his board seat to a challenger in the December election, sent a cashier's check this week to the fire district, but said it was not an admission of guilt.

"I want to put it behind us," he said Wednesday of the three-year legal battle, "for them to stop spending money and for me to stop spending money."

Bylicki sued the district board in the State Supreme Court in Nassau County in 2010 after his Length of Service Awards Program disability benefits were rescinded. Both that court and the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court have ruled against him.

The former New York City police sergeant receives a disability pension from the police department, having suffered post-traumatic stress after 9/11.

But he did not meet the fire district's definition of disabled, and as an administrator, adjusted the awards program for his gain, the courts found.

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In an affidavit rejected by the court on a technicality, Bylicki said he did not solely approve the program changes.

"I do not feel I got fair answers from the court," he said.

Bylicki was to learn last Monday if he would have to pay back the benefits, but the proceeding was delayed until April and he sent the check.

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The district board at its Tuesday night meeting accepted the check, chairman Thomas Mastakouris said.

"It is exactly to the penny what he collected from the taxpayers," he said Wednesday. "We were quite confident in this particular case that the facts and the law were on our side."

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