Cortland County Spent $23k to Settle Lawsuit With Former County Public Defender
Cortland County lawmakers spent more than $23 thousand dollars to settle a lawsuit filed against the county by former County Public Defender Keith Dayton.
Amid criticism that lawmakers voted in secret to authorize the settlement using tax payer dollars; the County Attorney’s office has released the figures associated with settlement.
The payment comes after Dayton filed a $17 thousand dollar claim against the County seeking payment for unused vacation time when he was not reappointed as the County Public Defender in January of 2012.
Lawmakers then launched an over $16 thousand dollar outside investigation into alleged employee misconduct by Dayton and members of his staff. While the report was critical of Dayton and recommended charges, a later investigation by Tompkins County D-A Gwen Wilkinson found no criminal activity, Wilkinson said she reviewed Cortland County’s policies and employee rules and did not find any violations there either.
The County filed a $25 thousand dollar counter lawsuit against Dayton seeking reimbursement for hours that he claimed he worked.
As part of this $23 thousand dollar settlement, the county dropped the counter claim and paid Dayton’s original $17 thousand dollars vacation pay claim, as well as over $18 hundred dollars in accrued interest and $4 thousand dollars in attorney fees.
Lawmakers voted 15 to 5 on April 25th in executive session to settle the lawsuit, the agreement included provisions that both sides would not discuss the terms of the settlement, despite the use of taxpayer funds.
Republican Legislator John Natoli who supported Dayton during the investigation and said the whole matter was nothing more than a witch hunt voted against the settlement; he felt the County should have settled the matter in court.
Legislator John Troy also voted against the settlement, he felt that Dayton should be compensated for his back vacation pay, but was not in favor of the additional expenses.