A third judge has recused himself in as many weeks from presiding over litigation between the Town of Hempstead and Double Eagle Golf, the former operator of the town-owned Lido Beach Golf Course.
Jerome Murphy, a New York State Supreme Court judge in Nassau County, recused himself Tuesday, court spokesman Daniel Bagnuola said Wednesday.
Murphy referred a question about why he recused himself to Bagnuola, who said: “A judge has absolute discretion to recuse himself or herself without giving a reason.”
Bagnuola confirmed that Murphy is married to the commissioner of Hempstead’s Department of Senior Enrichment. Town payroll records show her name is Lisa Murphy. Newsday has previously reported that Lisa Murphy is the daughter of former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, a Republican.
Judges Timothy Driscoll and Vito DeStefano recused themselves from the case on Oct. 29 and Nov. 15, respectively. Neither provided a reason.
Double Eagle operated the town-owned Lido Beach Golf Course from 1997 to 2017, when its contract expired and the town retook control of the facility. The company sued Hempstead in May 2017, arguing the town owed it $776,400 for capital improvements it carried out following superstorm Sandy in 2012. The town countersued, saying the company was contractually obligated to cover such costs, but the company had let the facility deteriorate.
The company and town reached an $85,000 settlement in court in April. But Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, a Democrat, expressed concern about the settlement in an Oct. 25 affidavit, in which she said that Double Eagle had paid a company controlled by Nassau County GOP chairman Joseph Cairo $922,800 from 1999 to 2014 for work related to the course.
The Hempstead Town Board last week unanimously voted down the settlement.
As for who will preside over the case now, Bagnuola said: “By means of established protocols for such matters, the case will be randomly reassigned through administrative channels.”