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Suffolk union head claims his suspension is illegal, political revenge

The headquarters for The Suffolk County Association of

The headquarters for The Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees is located at 30 Orville Dr. in Bohemia, seen here on June 15, 2014. Credit: Ian J. Stark

The head of Suffolk County's largest public union is firing back against board members who ordered his suspension, calling it a "politically motivated" attempt to derail his re-election.

Association of Municipal Employees president Dan Farrell said Friday that the 60-day suspension is illegal because the board took the action last week after he adjourned the meeting, which had gotten out of hand and became "a lynch mob."

Farrell, making his first public comments on the internal union battle, said the board doesn't have the power to suspend him until after the union's judicial board takes action on charges pending against him.

"This is totally politically motivated to knock me out and get me out of the election," he said. "That's not going to happen. I have a full team and I'm prepared to run and win."

Farrell is embroiled in a four-way battle for president against executive vice president Michael Finland, Brian Macri and Christopher Cuddihy.

Farrell's foes maintain that the board meeting continued legitimately after Farrell left because he never sought a board vote on adjournment.

The critics also say that union rules permit suspensions up to 60 days, so the judicial board can consider charges.

The board's action came after Farrell opened the meeting and began to explain some firings and suspensions he had imposed over the previous week. He was drowned out by angry union officials.

Farrell now says he plans to bring charges against union officers for holding an unauthorized executive board meeting at the home of union treasurer Coni Lorenzen last week, as well as their attempt to hold the unauthorized board meeting that resulted in the vote to suspend him.

The union leader also said he would seek to bring Bar Association charges against Barry Peek, a partner in Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein, for "unethical, immoral and unprofessional conduct."

Peek declined to comment.

Farrell also alleged that two vice presidents, Sal Russo and Kevin Williams, came into the union office last Tuesday after they were suspended and forced their way past the reception area, assaulting a worker there. Police had been called at the time, but made no arrest and Finland, who is running with both men, said there was no assault and the officers were simply collecting their pay.

Farrell also confirmed that effective Monday he has ordered revocation of release time for six top union officers and called for another meeting of the 38-member board of directors for Thursday to support the decision.

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