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DA subpoenas Southampton Town police files

Investigators for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota

Investigators for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota descended on Southampton Town Hall, seizing boxes of personnel files related to the Southampton Town police. (May 9, 2012) Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Investigators from the Suffolk County district attorney's office served a subpoena on Southampton's town clerk Wednesday morning, seizing several boxes related to the Southampton Town Police Department.

Eight men and women wearing blue Suffolk County DA jackets walked out with seven cardboard boxes after waiting about an hour until the records were retrieved from a vault inside the town clerk's office.

"Detectives assigned to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Government Corruption Bureau served a subpoena this morning on the Southampton Town clerk's office as part of an active investigation of the custodianship and status of police department records stored there," DA spokesman Robert Clifford said in a statement. "The Town Supervisor and the Town Attorney have been cooperative and accommodating during this ongoing investigation."

It was not immediately clear what information investigators were seeking in the seizure.

In a special and quickly called town board meeting Friday, the board suspended Southampton Town police Lt. James Kiernan for 38 days in connection with an unspecified personnel matter.

Rapid action was taken on the suspension because of information supplied by police Chief William Wilson Jr. that led board members to believe that "public safety and integrity of town business" were compromised, said Anna Throne-Holst, Southampton Town supervisor.

It is not clear whether or how Kiernan's suspension is connected to the district attorney's investigation.

Throne-Holst said Wednesday that she has never seen the records, but that they appear to be both personnel and internal investigation files that were originally housed at the police department.

"I ordered them moved [last May] from the police department after we received calls in our office from some employees there that some uncouth activity was going on," Throne-Holst said.

The boxes were originally in the office of Town Administrator Russell Kratoville, but they were later moved to the vault for safekeeping, Throne-Holst added.

Wilson, who resigned as Southampton Village police chief to become the town police chief last May, said there were allegations that records were tampered with before he began his new job. He said he asked for the boxes to be moved back to the police department about a week ago, as he was investigating an internal matter.

Now that the district attorney has the records, "we'll see where it goes," Wilson said.

As a union member, Kiernan is entitled to a hearing on any charges that he may face.

"Lieutenant Kiernan has an unblemished record, and we are confident when we go to hearing that he will be completely exonerated," said attorney Ray Perini, who represents the Superior Officers Association, of which Kiernan is a member.

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