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Sea Cliff getting back fees from lawsuit

The Village of Sea Cliff has recouped $151,000 in attorney fees spent in a years-long legal battle with a resident who alleged religious discrimination over his downtown restaurant.

The funds are part of the $900,000 that Robert Ehrlich was ordered to reimburse the village and several former officials after he lost a federal harassment lawsuit.

In his 2004 suit, Ehrlich, founder of the company behind Pirate’s Booty snacks, alleged an official hurled anti-Semitic slurs at him and claimed the village put him through a biased permit-approval process for his Roslyn Avenue restaurant, Sea Cliff Sushi Co., which closed in 2008.

He lost the suit in 2007, and a federal judge ordered in 2008 that he pay attorney fees for those he had sued.

“The charges were found to be frivolous,” village administrator John Mirando said.

The bulk of his $900,000 payment went to former officials named in the suit.

Ehrlich, 52, said on Tuesday he still hopes to reopen the restaurant.

He said the case is awaiting remand to state court.

Ehrlich last May filed a legal malpractice suit against his attorneys in the Sea Cliff case.

“I used to think the legal system is fair and honest, and it’s not,” he said. “It’s all about who you know.”

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