The Oyster Bay Town Board last week approved up to $10,000 to hire a Connecticut-based law firm to assist the town attorney’s office in civil litigation related to loans to companies controlled by indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh.
Court filings in Connecticut show that the firm is representing Town Attorney Leonard Genova in a case brought in August by two subsidiaries of Connecticut-based The Phoenix Companies. On Thursday, town spokesman Brian Devine confirmed that the $10,000 is to defend Genova.
The town’s outside legal counsel, Jonathan Pickhardt of Manhattan-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, said in an interview that he is working with attorney Carolyn Kone of Brenner, Saltzman & Wallman to defend Genova in the civil lawsuit.
Pickhardt said the complaint against Genova has no merit and asserted that the Connecticut court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.
“We don’t think there are any claims that could go forward there,” Pickhardt said.
The suit names Genova, former deputy town attorney Frederick Mei, Uniondale-based law firm Harris Beach, and New Jersey-based law firm McCarter & English as defendants.
The plaintiffs allege in the complaint that Genova engaged in “fraud” by directing Mei to provide its subsidiaries with false representations that led them to loan money to companies controlled by Singh. Singh’s companies defaulted on the loans, which are now the subject of other lawsuits and federal investigations.
A spokeswoman for Phoenix Companies declined to comment.
Harris Beach, which provided legal opinions on the disputed loan guarantees, said in a statement “we believe the complaint to be without merit and have accordingly filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.”
Attorneys for Mei did not respond to requests for comment.
A hearing on a motion to dismiss the case is scheduled for Nov. 21 in Connecticut Superior Court in Hartford.