DIRTY TRICKS? Mamaroneck Official “Accidentally” Releases Evidence File in Previously Dismissed Sexual Harassment Complaint against Board Trustee
The Village of Mamaroneck will hold its Democratic Party Primary on June 28.
MAMARONECK, NY (June 13, 2022) -- Apparently I have a lot to learn about how politics is played just north of New Rochelle.
It is fair to say that the state of the Village of Mamaroneck is more than a bit contentious these days, with in-fighting among Democrats on — or seeking seats on — the Board of Trustees, Democrats refusing the endorsement of the Mamaroneck Democratic Committee, a lawsuit pitting Dems against Dems, a criminal referral to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, an EEOC Complaint by Village Manager Jerome Barberio claiming Board Trustee Daniel Natchez was hitting on him when he repeatedly invited Barberio to stay at his home and Village Police sent to investigate reports that Natchez was acting inappropriately at Harbor Island Park.
While I have incrementally expanded my coverage area to include Mamaroneck — the police blotter and court reporting and live music from the Emelin Theater and a little on the board of education — I admittedly do not know much about the players and politicians in the City Hall orbit.
It was with great surprise then that I was blind-copied on a confidential email from the Village Manager to the Mayor and Board of Trustees on what appears to be highly sensitive material. To be clear, I have never heard of these people and would not know who they are if they were standing in front of me.
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On Friday, Barberio released to me an evidence file in his ongoing EEOC discrimination complaint against Natchez. The email is addressed to “MayorandBoard@vomny.org” but was somehow blind-copied to my email address.
The email discloses that Barberio, “as previously agreed” last month, turned over 152 pages of material on Friday, perhaps related to Barberio’s EEOC Complaint, to Mayor Thomas Murphy.
Earlier today, as discussed and agreed on May 29, 2022, I turned over 152 pages of documents to Mayor Murphy.
On Monday, when I called to see if the email was legitimate, Barberio said he “accidentally” sent the email to several people, including me.
“I sent the email to the wrong list,” said Barberio.
He repeatedly apologized for sending a “bcc” email to “email@example.com” but otherwise had nothing more to say.
What list Barberio sent his email to is a mystery because I have never received an email from Barberio or past Village Managers and the only VOM “list” I am on is the Village of Mamaroneck Police Department press list.
Having never communicated with Barberio, there is no reason my email address would “autofill” in a bcc field in an email composed by Barberio.
It is just hard to see how this was an accident.
We asked for comment on the email from Barberio, Mayor Murphy and Trustee Natchez.
The Mayor directed me to Natchez.
“The Village takes all accusations seriously and will do our due diligence under the law,” said Murphy. “Perhaps your inquiries would be better directed toward Trustee Natchez,”
The email is about what appears to be an ongoing internal investigation by the Village, so it is unclear why my inquiry would be referred to the subject of the investigation.
As a Board Trustee, Natchez received the email too.
Brian Sokoloff, an attorney representing Daniel Natchez, denied the allegations and insinuations contained in Barberio’s email to the Mayor and Board of Trustees.
“The whole thing is disgusting,” said Sokoloff. “This is election dirty tricks, to send this to a reporter right before an election.”
He pointed out that the email contained an attachment containing two matters — the EEOC Complaint and a VOMPD Incident Report — that went nowhere.
Sokoloff said a key component of the EEOC Complaint was misleading: when Natchez invited Barberio to stay at his house, Barberio was driving two hours each way from New Jersey to his new job in Mamaroneck. Natchez invited Barberio — and his wife — to stay in an unoccupied wing of his house while they looked for a new home.
The EEOC Complaint was dismissed without a finding on March 30, 2022.
Sokoloff said the police officers who responded to a call about a man at the beach at Harbor Island Park determined the complaint to be unfounded.
“This is obviously an election stunt to email a reporter with this when this was in 2020,” said Sokoloff. “This occurred years ago and nothing further happened of a police nature or any other kind of nature, but suddenly, it gets sprinkled to a reporter right before an election, which is like the lowest kind of way of an effect of affecting an election.”
“The only thing that has changed between now and then is that in two weeks there is an election in Mamaroneck.”
Sokoloff said the village administrator is not a politician, and is not supposed to be involved in political battles.
“If one candidate had sent it, that's one thing, but this is the village administrator. He works for the Board of Trustees, so for him to blind copy this to you is deceptive and dishonest to the Board of Trustees to not even let them know that this is being copied.”
I filed a Freedom of Information request seeking the 152 pages of records referenced in the email. Of course, if I learn there are 152 pages of records being passed among Village leaders I want to them.
The evidence file includes the EEOC Complaint, a VOMPD Incident Report dated September 7, 2020, and a screenshot of a text exchange that includes a photo of Natchez at the beach at Harbor Island Park.
If readers are interested in unsubstantiated allegations that have been strongly denied they can click the “evidence file” link above.
Barberio filed a complaint with the New York State Division Of Human Rights dated November 19, 2021. He asked the complaint be presented to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the complaint he named the Village of Mamaroneck and Mayor Thomas Murphy, Deputy Mayor Kelly Wenstrup, Trustee Victor Tatur, Trustee Mora Lucas and Trustee Dan Natchez as those who discriminated against him.
Polly Kreisman, writing in the Larchmont Loop, wrote about the Discrimination complaint in February: Mamaroneck Village Manager Accuses Trustee of Harassment
Kreisman reported that Natchez, 78, was accused of sexually harassing Barberio, 54. She said Natchez allegedly intervened on behalf of a Village Buildings Department employee accused of overtime padding.
She explained that when he first began his new position, “Barberio still lived in Hammonton, NJ, a two hour drive, and was staying in Darien, CT., before moving to Mamaroneck with his wife in 2019.”
Natchez, in an email to theLoop, wrote, “The allegations of the EEOC charge lack merit and are baseless. I look forward through independent investigation of the allegations and will be completely exonerated.”
The accusations have led Barberio to seek an exit package after three years on the job. Murphy is against giving a payout to Barberio to leave his post.
“Jerry Barberio does an excellent job and I am not of a mind to pay him to leave. He is free to go if he wants to, but it would take 3 members of the Board to give him a payout and I am pretty solid I am not one of them.”
Barberio reportedly earns $211,818 annually and has a four-year deal with Mamaroneck Village.
Natchez, who reportedly earns $6,865 annually, is planning to run for reelection this year.
Kreisman linked to the EEOC Complaint at something called The Mamaroneck Project which appears to be some sort of anonymous website posing as a good government organization. Who is behind it is not disclosed on the website.
Before he left the Journal News, David Propper had a good run-down in March on in-fighting among Democrats ahead of the June Democratic Party Primary.
The divide in the Mamaroneck Democratic Party deepened last month ahead of the June primary, stemming from the endorsement of an incumbent under fire for a workplace complaint.
The Mamaroneck Democratic Committee's nomination for Trustee Dan Natchez resulted in another candidate, Leilani Yizar-Reid, declining the committee's support for one of three open seats on the village board.
Two additional candidates, incumbent Lou Young and Manny Rawlings, said they turned down the committee's offer to reconsider them for an endorsement after Yizar-Reid pulled out because they didn't want to run with Natchez.
Propper quoted Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy, who is supporting the Independent slate of Democratic candidates, saying: “I was never supportive of Dan Natchez being a member of the board of trustees and nothing in my experience of working with him has changed that opinion.”
AJ Woodson wrote about the unsuccessful effort by the Mamaroneck Democratic Committee to remove Rawlings, Yizar-Reid, and Young from the primary ballot.
The case was heard 10:30 Friday morning before Hon Lewis J. Lubell at the State Supreme Court in White Plains and ruled their names will appear on June 28th Democratic Primary Ballot for Village of Mamaroneck Trustee.
The Village of Mamaroneck will hold its Democratic Party Primary on June 28.