A former part-time Quogue Village jail attendant was recently issued a court-ordered written apology and a $16,500 settlement from the Quogue Police Department after claiming her sexual harassment allegations were ignored by the mayor and police officials.
According to the lawsuit, on May 30, Charlotte Lander, 64, found a letter perched on a bookshelf inside her Quogue home. It was written by Police Officer John Mangino, who works part time. Lander, who said she never locked her doors before the incident, became alarmed when she read the contents.
The two-page note described in graphic detail a sexual fantasy involving the two of them. The lawsuit states that Mangino admitted writing the letter.
Lander said she had a friendly but professional relationship with all the jail staff, and was known by some as "Mama Charlotte." No one at the police department, including Mangino, had ever made a suggestive remark to her, she added.
"Has he done this to other people?" Lander said. "He is driving around at night with a gun and a badge. Is he pulling over other women and doing things like this?"
Just as unsettling, she said, were village officials' responses when she reported the harassment. Department officials fired off a letter to Mangino and Lander warning them that if the "personal matter" interfered with work, "your jobs may be affected."
Lander said Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius told her to find another job if she was not happy. Instead she quit and filed a $1 million lawsuit against the village and police department.
Sartorius said he had no comment, as did Quogue Village's attorney for the case, Joshua Shteierman of Smithtown. Mangino and Police Chief Robert Coughlan did not return calls for comment.
Before the Sept. 26 settlement, crafted by Magistrate Justice Gary R. Brown of Eastern District Court in Central Islip, the village offered Lander $500 and then $2,500 to drop the case, but she said she wanted protection from Mangino.
Brown based the settlement on what Lander would have earned had she worked until age 65. She was also issued an order of protection.
"It was never about the money," said Lander's attorney, Michael McClellan, of Hauppauge. "It was affording her some degree of protection, and some vindication."