Oyster Bay’s town board has approved an undisclosed amount of money for outside legal-counsel fees.
The board on Tuesday approved $287,017 in legal fees to two firms but did not disclose how much it had approved for two other firms handling a federal housing-discrimination lawsuit.
Oyster Bay’s board has approved at least $2.1 million in outside legal fees this year, roughly three times what it approved last year. Town records compiled by Newsday show that this year to date is the second highest for legal-fee approvals over the past eight years.
Approvals authorize spending and don’t necessarily mean the money has been or will be spent. Town Supervisor John Venditto declined to answer questions before or after the meeting. Town spokeswoman Marta Kane did not respond to questions about the legal-fee approvals.
The largest known approval Tuesday was $250,000 annually over the next two years for Hewlett-based Nicholas DeSibio PC for worker’s compensation cases. The approval is an increase over the $215,000 the town approved for the same law practice last year.
The other known amount was $37,017 for Cozen O’Connor PC, a Philadelphia-based firm with Manhattan offices. The town board resolution said the firm was hired at the request of Town Attorney Leonard Genova because the firm provided “skills” and “resources beyond those” that his office could provide. Oyster Bay hired the firm to represent an undisclosed town employee in an undisclosed matter.
The firm, which American Lawyer ranks as the 81st largest in the United States, says on its website that it has a large litigation practice that represents clients in disputes that include labor and employment, securities, construction, criminal defense and government investigations.
The town’s declining to disclose information about outside legal fees is not new. In April the town board approved $250,000 for the New York City law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, but officials have refused to say why the firm was hired other than it involved litigation, or if any taxpayer money has been expended on the firm.
The town board on Tuesday also approved retaining the firms Sinnreich, Kosakoff & Messina LLP of Central Islip and Washington D.C.-based Covington & Burling LLP to represent the town on “various pending matters” for an undisclosed amount.
The town first hired Covington & Burling in 2013, approving $250,000 to represent it in a federal housing discrimination lawsuit that is ongoing. In September of this year, the town approved paying the two firms $430,000 to represent the town on housing issues.