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Michael Fagen, ex-Long Beach councilman, provided emails about political retribution, lawsuit reports

Former Long Beach City Councilman Michael Fagen leaves

Former Long Beach City Councilman Michael Fagen leaves the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola in a 2013 file photo. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Emails included in a lawsuit filed by six Long Beach police officers who said city officials conspired to demote them for political retribution were provided by former City Councilman Michael Fagen, according to court records.

The six officers, led by former Long Beach police Lt. James Canner, in 2012 filed a $39 million lawsuit against the city, its police department and the Long Beach Democratic Party. The officers said messages by party and city officials discussed payback and demotions for police who opposed Democratic candidates in the 2011 City Council and Nassau County Legislature election.

Fagen provided the emails and text messages, according to documents filed by the officers in the case on Oct. 31. The police officers added Fagen to the lawsuit as a defendant in July.

Fagen was convicted last year of petty larceny and using a false instrument for filing to collect $15,000 in fraudulent unemployment payments. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 5 years' probation. He could not be reached for comment. The council removed Fagen from office after his February 2013 conviction.

City Manager Jack Schnirman has asked U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch's office to investigate the emails, which he said were forged and embellished from the originals sent to him and council members by Democratic Party deputy leader Steve Kohut and council vice president Fran Adelson. Lynch's office declined to comment.

The case was dismissed by an Eastern District of New York federal court judge in 2012, but refiled last May. An amended complaint was filed in October. The city is seeking to dismiss the case.

The emails provided in the lawsuit showed Kohut and Adelson discussing punishment for the officers for campaigning against Darlene Tangney, wife of Police Commissioner Michael Tangney, in her failed bid for a Nassau County Legislature seat.

The motion opposing the city's request to dismiss the lawsuit quoted text messages between Fagen and Maria Radin, the wife of police officer John Radin, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"I think it's ironic that Mr. Schnirman requested the U.S. attorney to investigate one of his co-defendants [Fagen]," said Eric Rothstein, an attorney for the officers. "I don't know if they [the emails] are forged or not. It would be a silly thing to do while on his probation."

The text messages between Fagen and Maria Radin say Fagen found the printed emails in his personal storage locker before he provided them to Radin. Fagen told Maria Radin the emails were "legit," according to the texts cited in the case.

Fagen said in the text messages that the city deleted a year of emails from his computer during his trial. He said in text messages to Radin that he refused to let attorneys search his computer to verify the emails or search his account.

Long Beach spokesman Gordon Tepper called the case "a frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars" that has created $262,487 in legal fees for the city. He said the officers "recklessly impugned the reputation of Adelson and Kohut."

"This case is now exposed for what it is: a cash grab based on the conspiracy of a convicted felon," Tepper said."It's indisputable these emails were doctored . . . these texts show a cynical deal made with a felon so he could be removed from the lawsuit."

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