Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini has reversed his decision to demote a lieutenant for improperly giving the stepson of an aide an extra chance to pass an agility test and will let him keep his $170,590 a year rank, according to county and police sources.
Paul Mamay, who had been commander of the application investigations unit, will instead be penalized by giving up 60 days of already accrued leave time — worth more than $40,000 — and have his six month probation extended to a year, according to the sources.
Lt. Robert Sweeney, who had been head of recruit training at the police academy, also settled departmental charges against him by giving up 20 days of accrued time, sources say.
“They reached a settlement,” said County Attorney Dennis Brown, who had been expected to be in court last week defending Sini’s original decision from a lawsuit brought by Mamay and his union. The court earlier issued an order that blocked Mamay’s demotion temporarily.
Citing state law, Sini declined to confirm any details of the settlement. He also declined to say why the county changed its position, after earlier saying it could legally demote Mamay during his six month probationary period should the internal affairs probe warrant action.
Sini said only, “It was a fair resolution that balanced all the interests.”
Brown said county attorneys did not take part in the negotiations or advise Sini that his original decision to demote Mamay was legally vulnerable.
“It was a legitimate decision,” said Brown. “But litigation is uncertain and settlement is the prerogative of the client,“ referring to the commissioner.
Mamay was a $151,174-a-year sergeant last August when Christopher McAdam, stepson of police officer Richard Roth, who worked under Mamay, was improperly given a third chance to pass a situp test, despite long-standing policy permitting a single retest.
McAdam was terminated from the police academy — a decision upheld in court — and the department began an internal affairs probe of the incident. However, Sini promoted Mamay to lieutenant amid the probe, just before he was confirmed as police commissioner by the Suffolk Legislature.
In addition to his demotion, Mamay also faced departmental charges of misconduct and neglect of duty in connection with the incident, which are both resolved by the settlement. Tim Morris, president of the Superior Officers Association which represents May, declined to comment.
Union attorney Paul Linzer did not return calls for comment. He had said earlier that the county acted improperly because the allegations took place when Mamay was a sergeant and was entitled to a hearing on the charges. Linzer said reviews of Mamay’s work as a lieutenant were unblemished. Civil Service officials said that during probation an officer can be demoted without cause.
When Sini demoted Mamay in June, he said, “This is a very serious matter and it is taken every seriously here.” Sini said the disciplinary action and other steps would “ensure the integrity of the hiring process moving forward.”
The settlement not only allows Mamay to keep his current rank, but opens the way for him to take further civil service tests for higher rank. Had the demotion remained in place, Mamay would have been at the same rank he had when the cheating incident occurred. He would have had to wait to take a new civil service test to qualify for possible promotion to lieutenant.
Sini, who has held dozens of news conferences since becoming commissioner, did not did not publicly disclose the settlement until questioned by a Newsday reporter. Before he was named commissioner, Sini had said “one of the biggest complaints” he receives from community groups is “they don’t hear from us” after dealing with internal affairs issues.
“Even if we do a good job on the internal affairs investigation, we’re not properly promoting accountability because the public doesn’t know what we’re doing about it,” Sini said in February. “So a huge part of this when an officer makes a mistake we have to hold them accountable” and he added “a big part of it is to make sure the community knows we’re being responsive.”