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Hempstead Town hires outside law firm for code inspector case

Hempstead Town officials have charged Roy Gunther Jr.,

Hempstead Town officials have charged Roy Gunther Jr., a municipal code enforcement officer, with letting garbage and construction debris accumulate outside his Oceanside home. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Hempstead Town has hired Garden City law firm Jaspan Schlesinger to act as special prosecutor in a court case against a code officer accused of violating the town code, officials said.

The town charged Roy Gunther Jr. with a code violation in May, saying he allegedly allowed garbage and construction debris to pile up outside his Oceanside home during repairs of damage caused by superstorm Sandy. Gunther was also suspended from his job without pay for five days in late August.

Gunther appeared in court Aug. 17, and the case was adjourned until Tuesday as the town hired a special prosecutor to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Town spokesman Mike Deery said Jaspan Schlesinger attorney Jeffrey Schwartz would handle the case. Deery did not immediately have information on how much the firm would be paid.

Gunther, who is listed in 2016 payroll records as a “code enforcement officer III” in the town’s building department, has worked for the town since 1999. His 2016 salary was $125,333. His attorney, Michael Elbaz, could not be reached on Monday.

Court documents state that an “on-site field inspection” of Gunther’s home found “brick piles, milk crates, a sink, a toilet bowl, and varying garbage and construction debris stored on the property at the exterior of the dwelling.”

Gunther had received two other summonses for failing to have a permit to disconnect a gas meter, but the charges were dropped because the building inspector wrote the wrong date on the ticket.

Jaspan Schlesinger also represents the town’s Industrial Development Agency in a lawsuit about tax breaks for the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. Nassau Republican Committee vice chairman Joseph Cairo’s daughter Lisa works for the firm and is counsel on the Green Acres Mall case.

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