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Southampton cop reinstated; charges 'resolved'

Southampton Town Hall is shown.

Southampton Town Hall is shown. Credit: Erin Geismar

After a two-hour closed door meeting Tuesday night, the Southampton Town Board voted 5-0 to ratify a stipulation of settlement reinstating Lt. James Kiernan, who has been suspended since May.

Kiernan was in charge of the now-disbanded street crime unit. After an investigation of that unit was launched in 2011 by the Suffolk County district attorney's office, Police Chief William Wilson in May filed more than 20 disciplinary charges against Kiernan, who has been on unpaid leave -- using up his vacation time and sick time -- while awaiting a hearing.

That hearing began last week. Tuesday's action means that all the charges against him "have been resolved," Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said after last night's vote. Neither she nor any of the other board members discussed any details and did not comment on what is likely to happen next.

"It is a settlement. The details are confidential," Throne-Holst said.

Kiernan's attorney, Ray Perini of Hauppauge -- who represents the Southampton Police Superior Officers Association -- said he could not discuss details of the settlement, or of the original charges. "I would not say he is satisfied," Perini said of Kiernan. "It's not satisfactory to be out of work for six months."

In May, the office of Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota served a subpoena on Southampton Town, seizing seven boxes of police department records that had been kept in the town clerk's office after town officials were ordered to preserve them because of an active investigation into the police department.

Later that month, Spota agreed to vacate the conviction of two drug dealers who were in jail after being arrested by the street crimes unit, and Spota said his office was reviewing more than 100 other arrests by that unit. Tuesday, his office issued a terse statement saying the stipulation approved Tuesday night was "purely a Southampton Town Police matter."

Records show Kiernan earned $156,461 last year. The street crimes unit was disbanded more than a year ago.

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