Islip says conviction could help case against employee
Islip officials say the town's suspended purchasing director failed to disclose his status as a convicted sex offender, an omission they say could bolster the yearlong attempt to fire the employee.
East Islip resident Michael J. Patejdl, 70, the town's purchasing director since 2009, pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of possessing a sexual performance by a child younger than 16 -- a felony, according to court records. He was sentenced to 10 years' probation.
Town officials suspended Patejdl on April 12, 2012, for job-related issues unrelated to the conviction.
Town Attorney Rob Cicale said town officials learned of Patejdl's criminal record through a tip last week, and they are investigating whether his conviction could impact his pending disciplinary case. If, for example, his terms of probation restrict his computer use, that could affect his ability to do his $60,000 a year job, town officials said.
"There does not appear to be any notation of any kind that depicts what occurred," in the town's files, Cicale said, referring to the criminal case. "The town has concerns in light of the new information."
Patejdl, who did not respond to a message seeking comment, is scheduled to appear Friday before Judge Barbara Kahn for a routine compliance hearing at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead. His attorney, Peter E. Brill of Hauppauge, said his client reported his job to county probation officials, but they aren't required to report a conviction to an employer.
"He took responsibility for his actions and has addressed the underlying issue," Brill said. "There was never any allegation that he had any contact with children. It was purely -- and not to downplay it -- images downloaded from the Internet."
Court documents show that Patejdl's conditions of probation mandate that he "disclose the nature" of his offense to his employer, "when required to do so by the probation officer."
A Suffolk County spokeswoman said the county's probation department is not required to tell an employer when an employee is on probation.
Alan Serrins, a Manhattan attorney who is representing Patejdl in the town disciplinary case, said "none of the charges and specifications should result in termination."
He said he couldn't speculate on the town's motives for suspending Patejdl but acknowledged the child pornography conviction "might have something to do with it." Patejdl allowed Suffolk police to examine his computer on Oct. 19, 2010, at his Yuma Lane home, where he said he lived with his wife, charging documents show. He was arrested Nov. 9, 2010.
"The defendant provided the detective with a laptop and several external hard drives and stated they had bad stuff on them," according to a 2011 affidavit. He was required to pay $1,425 in court costs, including a $50 sex offender registry fee, a court receipt shows. The registry notes Patejdl is classified as a level-1 offender, whose victim was a male younger than 16.