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Judge dismisses former East Hampton Village police chief's lawsuit

The action filed by Gerard Larsen and his wife accused the village mayor and a trustee of hurting their private security business.

Former East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen

Former East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen outside East Hampton Village Hall on Aug. 24, 2017. Photo Credit: Megan Miller

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former East Hampton Village police chief involving a village policy restricting his work in the lucrative private security industry.

Gerard Larsen and his wife, Lisa, filed the federal lawsuit in 2017 against Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr. , trustee Richard Lawler and the village. The lawsuit was filed by Protec Services Inc., the property management and security firm the Larsens own. 

A complaint alleged that Rickenbach and Lawler used their positions on the village board to get a competitive advantage in the industry by prohibiting Protec from conducting business within the village. 

Lawler denied any connections to local security firms and Rickenbach called that claim “totally false.”

Judge Joseph Bianco dismissed the case not on its merits, but because Larsen failed to file it in within the statute of limitations, according to a court transcript. The judgment, ordered by Bianco in September and filed on Wednesday, declares Protec “take nothing” against the village, Rickenbach or Lawler.

“The village is extremely pleased with this decision by Judge Bianco,” Rickenbach said in a statement. “The village steadfastly stands by its policies and procedures. We look forward to putting this unnecessary matter behind us and moving forward with village business.”

The issue began in 2009 when another security firm with alleged ties to Rickenbach complained after it said it lost business to Protec, the complaint states.

The board soon required Protec to stop conducting business within the village boundaries, prohibited it from hiring other village employees and restricted it from performing drug and alcohol testing services, the lawsuit said. Protec lost approximately 76 percent of its gross profit during the following year, including a $300,000 contract for 24-hour security services at a village residence, the lawsuit said.

That lawsuit then should have been filed by 2012, the judge said.

The judge granted the Larsens time to amend their complaint, though they decided not to do so. Gerard Larsen, who served as village police chief from 2002 until stepping down in 2016, said on Wednesday he will not appeal the decision largely due to the expense. He maintained that he was treated unfairly by village officials.

“Unfortunately, I waited too long to file the suit,” he said. “I wish we could have gotten to the real case.”

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