Ruling upheld on ex-fire commissioner's benefits

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 wrongfully took disability benefits from his district, a state appeals court has ruled in upholding a 2011 State Supreme Court of Nassau County decision.

But separately, the State Supreme Court of Nassau postponed a call on whether Richard Bylicki must repay the $18,000 he has already collected in Length of Service Awards Program benefits.

As an administrator, Bylicki, 54, amended provisions in the district's program to gain $48,000 more in total benefits and did not meet the district's definition of disabled, the state court had said.

His appeal of that ruling was denied in February, with the court writing that the fire district's severing of his benefits "had a rational basis and was not arbitrary and capricious."

The decision on whether he owes the district was moved from last Monday to April 22.

The state court in January also ruled in favor of the board of fire commissioners on three counterclaims, including "fraudulent inducement." The court, however, denied the commissioners the $1 million they requested in damages.

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Bylicki, who gets New York Police Department disability benefits as a retired sergeant who suffered post-traumatic stress after 9/11, called the suit a difference of medical opinion and, in an affidavit rejected by the court on a technicality, argued he did not solely approve the awards program changes.

"Do I feel I'm still correct? I do, even though two courts ruled against me," Bylicki said. He said the fire district could have avoided spending taxpayer money on the legal battle if it had settled with him earlier. Bylicki was ousted from his seat in the December election.

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