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Abuse-of-power lawsuit against Fields dismissed

A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Oakdale neighbors of Assemb. Ginny Fields, who had charged that she, her son and tenants had carried out an intimidation campaign against them.

The abuse-of-power lawsuit, filed in 2008, claimed that Fields began harassing her neighbors, Carol and Peter Schwasnick, after they reported to the Town of Islip several code violations on a property where Fields and her husband were illegally renting out two cottages. According to the lawsuit, Fields, with her son and tenants, threatened the neighbors, blared a sexually explicit radio station in their direction, rode a motorbike along the property line and drove a truck dangerously close as the Schwasnick family waited for the school bus.

The suit, which accused Islip officials of denying the Schwasnicks' constitutional rights by failing to address the code violations, was dismissed on June 30 by District Judge Joanna Seybert.

She ruled that the complaints did not reach the threshold of constitutional violations.

Fields Wednesday said: "I'm very happy that justice was served and it proves that I'm the one who was harassed. It was entirely frivolous."

Carol Schwasnick said the ruling is "disappointing. However, it doesn't mean that there was no wrongdoing."

Islip in 2007 cited Fields and her husband, Walter Fields, for two one-story cottages on the lot of a larger house on East Shore Road. The cottages did not have rental permits and were not included in the house's certificate of occupancy.

Newsday reported last year that Fields (D-Oakdale) had not yet submitted an application to the town Zoning Board of Appeals to bring the cottages into compliance. In February, the zoning board ruled that she could continue to rent one - but had to demolish or move the other.

The Schwasnicks have appealed that decision. Fields said she is awaiting letters from the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid confirming that the cottages have been disconnected from power and gas lines before proceeding with the demolition.

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