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East Hampton Village calls ex-police chief’s lawsuit ‘frivolous’

Former East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen

Former East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen stands outside of East Hampton Village City Hall on Thursday, August 24, 2017. Credit: Megan Miller

East Hampton Village officials criticized what they called a “frivolous” lawsuit filed by the former village police chief, saying they enacted “reasonable restrictions” on Gerard Larsen’s outside security work out of concern about the top cop’s potential conflicts of interest.

The village board said in a statement Monday that Larsen’s private security business, Protec Services Inc., “was a frequent source of difficulty in his relationship with the Village and was a factor in his separation from the Village’s employment.”

Larsen and his wife, Lisa, sued the village, Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr. and trustee Richard Lawler on Aug. 22, alleging that Rickenbach and Lawler implemented restrictions — including prohibiting Protec from conducting business in the village — as a way to get a competitive advantage in the private security and property management field that they all worked in.

Officials said in the statement that the complaint “was replete with inaccuracies” and that Larsen accepted “a separation package resolving all his differences with his employer” upon his retirement July 31.

“His comparison to members of the Village’s Board of Trustees, who are not sworn police officers and have no law enforcement authority, is baseless and is reflective of his lack of understanding of his ethical obligations while employed by the village,” officials said.

Rickenbach declined to answer questions Wednesday about his alleged outside work, saying “the place this will be heard is in court.”

The mayor earns $26,000 a year and trustees earn $14,000 a year for positions that do not have a set number of work hours, Village Administrator Rebecca Hansen said.

Larsen’s representatives said the board’s statement highlights one of the arguments against the village: that officials did not apply the ethics code equally.

“The Village’s policy of holding its politicians to a standard different than everyone else will not withstand judicial scrutiny,” attorney James Wicks said.

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