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Nassau lawmakers OK nearly $3 million to settle 2 lawsuits

Nassau legislative committees voted Monday, Jan. 9, 2017,

Nassau legislative committees voted Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, for an $850,000 settlement with Alicia Boudouris, left, and for a resolution authorizing the county attorney to settle, for $2 million, the suit brought by Seemona Sumasar and her teenage daughter. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau legislative committees on Monday agreed to pay nearly $3 million to settle two federal lawsuits against the county, one alleging that Nassau police falsely arrested a woman who had been framed for nonexistent robberies by a vengeful ex-boyfriend.

The Rules and Finance committees each voted 7-0 for a resolution authorizing the county attorney to settle, for $2 million, the suit brought by Seemona Sumasar and her teenage daughter against the county and a police detective who investigated and jailed Sumasar in 2010 on charges that prosecutors later said were concocted.

The committees also approved a proposed $850,000 settlement with Alicia Boudouris, a deputy sheriff who alleged in 2014 that colleagues and superiors in the sheriff’s department created or tolerated a hostile work environment filled with vulgar language and sex-based taunts.

Lawmakers spent nearly 90 minutes in executive session before approving the settlements, but made little public comment. County Attorney Carnell Foskey and a lawyer for Boudouris declined to comment, while Sumasar’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment.

The settlements will be considered by the full legislature later this month.

Sumasar’s case stems from her arrest by Nassau police in May 2010 on charges of armed robbery and impersonating a police officer. She spent more than 6 months in jail before prosecutors dropped the case, saying she had been framed as part of an elaborate revenge plot by an ex-boyfriend who was about to go to trial on charges he raped her in Queens.

Sumasar, a former Queens resident, alleged in her suit that police were negligent in failing to confirm her alibi and in failing to debunk the claims made by the alleged victims, who in fact had been paid by her ex-boyfriend to lie that they had been robbed at gunpoint.

The ex-boyfriend, Jerry Ramrattan, was later convicted of the rape and frame-up of Sumasar and sentenced to 32 years in prison. At his sentencing in 2012, a Queens judge said Nassau police “were duped by liars.”

Boudouris’ lawsuit names Nassau County, Sheriff Michael Sposato and three sheriff’s department employees. It alleges that Boudouris was subjected to the hostile work environment of crude and pejorative language while working in the department’s family court unit in Westbury over several years beginning in 2010.

“It was constant,” Boudouris’ attorney, Rick Ostrove of Leeds Brown Law, said in 2014 when the case was filed. “There were references to female body parts. There were references to what women look like, how women should act, sexual things involving women, and it was very degrading.”

The suit also alleged that after Boudouris filed an internal complaint, she was subject to retaliation in the form of a transfer to a unit that offered less overtime pay.

The case was settled shortly after a judge ordered last year that both Sposato and County Executive Edward Mangano sit for depositions.

Boudouris said she spoke to Mangano numerous times about her work environment and that she had sent Sposato a memo outlining “sexual harassment within the Family Court Unit.”

Also Monday, the Rules and Finance committees approved a settlement with the Town of Hempstead that had been announced last September to end a long-standing utility tax refund dispute.

The deal calls for Nassau to pay Hempstead $17.9 million in return for the town dropping its claim for $25.6 million in reimbursement for refunds Hempstead had paid Verizon as a result of erroneous county property tax assessments.

Nassau settled a similar case with Oyster Bay last year for $26.8 million.

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