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Jury awards $1.45M to ex-trustee who sued Muttontown

Muttontown Village Hall & Justice Court Town of

Muttontown Village Hall & Justice Court Town of Oyster Bay on April 27, 2013. Credit: JC Cherubini

A federal jury has awarded a former Muttontown trustee $1.45 million after he sued the village over due process in a complex land deal.

The village attorney says Muttontown will ask the judge to set aside the verdict or appeal if necessary.

Richard Entel sued the village over 1.1 acres he bought after the village didn't act on a developer's offer to donate it.

In 2011, a federal judge ruled the village violated Entel's rights when it didn't notify him of a 2007 action to acquire the land, setting the stage for a trial on damages.

The case stems from a 1972 offer by a developer to offer the parcel to the village as park land. The village didn't accept the offer. Entel bought the land to add to his property, and the village board accepted his offer of a conservation easement to prevent development on it in 2005. Two years later, the board rebuffed Entel's easement offer and accepted the original donation offer after he lost a mayoral election and his party lost control of the village board.

E. Christopher Murray, Entel's Uniondale attorney, Monday called the $1.45 million verdict, awarded Sept. 12 by the jury in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, a "tremendous vindication for my client who was the victim of a series of politically charged and vindictive moves by the village."

Village attorney Steven Leventhal said: "It is our belief that the jury's verdict was not supported by the evidence introduced at trial, and that the evidence did not support an award of damages. Any loss in value sustained by Mr. and Mrs. Entel on their residence was due solely to their own decisions and not due to any actions on the part of the village."

The village and its insurance company, Scottsdale Indemnity Co. of Arizona, are also in court over the company's contention that it is not required to pay for a verdict against Muttontown.

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