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Camp Anchor parents seek order for town to keep lists private

The Malone-Muhall Recreation Center of Camp Anchor in

The Malone-Muhall Recreation Center of Camp Anchor in Lido Beach. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Parents and campers of the special-needs Camp Anchor in Lido Beach are seeking an injunction to stop the Town of Hempstead from further releasing their personal information.

Bellmore attorney Jeffrey Gold on Nov. 13 filed a $246 million class-action lawsuit in U.S. Eastern District Court on behalf of 1,200 campers and parents who said their personal information was released by the town to William Muller, Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino’s legal counsel, and used for political letters sent to families shortly before the election. He sought the injunction on Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed against the Town of Hempstead, Santino and his campaign, Muller and his wife, deputy Hempstead Town Clerk Diana Muller, Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad, and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Zappolo. A court date to rule on the injunction has not been scheduled.

Town officials said the personal information of campers with developmental disabilities at the town-owned camp and their parents was publicly obtained by Muller in a Freedom of Information request. Gold said Muller and his wife used the addresses and names of campers to send campaign-funded letters asking the families to vote for Santino.

Gold also asked the town to preserve all personal files and communication of the defendants before Santino’s administration leaves office at the end of the year.

Gold said the town rejected an offer to settle the case in arbitration starting with a proposal of between $5,000 to $25,000 per plaintiff.

Hempstead officials said the town does not comment on pending litigation. William Muller declined to comment.

The town’s outside counsel, Manhattan-based attorney Angelo R. Bisceglie, filed a motion opposing the injunction, calling it premature.

“The defendants are not opposed to negotiating a protective order, which would include provisions on how the parties will treat the Camp Anchor list,” Bisceglie said.

Gold said in his motion the information should be kept private for the safety and privacy of these campers and their families. He said the information could have been accessed from medical or billing records.

“At some point in the past, it appears the town created a mailing list of Camp Anchor parents and campers by mining information from the applications and/or invoices,” Gold wrote in his motion. “Every family on the Camp Anchor list has someone residing in their house who has a severe developmental disability. If the list fell into the wrong hands, it could put at risk the safety of the handicapped individuals or those at the addresses, because they would be easy victims for predators.”

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