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Former director of Smithtown animal shelter sues town, workers

Sue Hansen, seen on Jan. 31, 2017, was

Sue Hansen, seen on Jan. 31, 2017, was the director of the Smithtown Animal Shelter from 2015 through 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

The former director of Smithtown Town’s animal shelter on Wednesday sued the town and employees, including Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo, alleging they lied to police to have her wrongfully arrested last year.

Sue Hansen led the shelter from 2015 to 2017, when she was suspended from the job, arrested on a charge of third-degree criminal trespass after returning to attend a volunteer orientation and later fired. Town officials testified in the administrative hearing that led to her termination during the summer that the shelter was chaotic and filthy under her leadership. The town’s Public Safety Department now manages the shelter, and shelter employees have been incorporated into that department.

The trespassing charge was dropped in December at the request of Assistant District Attorney John Sciandra, according to Hansen’s complaint. A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, Sheila Kelly, confirmed that the charge was dismissed by the DA’s office December 22.

Inzerillo and Town Attorney Matt Jakubowski did not respond to requests for comment.

The complaint, filed Wednesday in Eastern District Court in Central Islip, accuses Inzerillo and other town employees including Public Safety Department director John Valentine of lying to Suffolk County police officers when they said they had heard public safety officers warn Hansen not to return to the shelter during her suspension.

According to the complaint, the town’s written disciplinary charges against Hansen never said she was banned from the premises. When she returned for a volunteer orientation session in February 2017, public safety officers told her to leave and she complied, according to the complaint. Police arrested her at home weeks later, a delay “bizarre for such a trivial alleged infraction.”

According to the complaint, Inzerillo, elected to the council in 2015, was hostile to Hansen almost from the start of her tenure, criticizing her in front of town officials who visited the shelter and placing a derogatory report into her personnel file.

The complaint does not specify damages.

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