EMS brass file ethics complaint against town

Colonie Emergency Medical Services Chief Jonathan Politis and Deputy Chief Peter Berry have submitted a complaint to the Town of Colonie Board of Ethics alleging town officials abused the power of their offices by conducting a "surprise raid" of the EMS LifeGuard program.

The Spotlight obtained a copy of the complaint dated Monday, Jan. 5, which states that Supervisor Paula Mahan, Town Attorney Michael Magguili and Director of Operation Peter Gannon "have misused public funds for purposes of political and personal retribution."

Politis confirmed the complaint was filed Wednesday, Jan. 7, and said, "We're hoping the Town Board and Town Ethics Committee take action against what was written in the complaint."

He declined to comment further.

According to the complaint, the harassment stems from the 2004 disciplinary actions Politis and Berry took against former EMS workers Hugh Skerker and William Gardner. The two had their private e-mails subpoenaed by the previous administration after they had filed numerous complaints about Politis and the EMS department with then-Supervisor Mary Brizzell.

The complaint states, "During [Mahan's] campaign, Skerker and Gardner openly supported Mahan for her bid for office and made it publicly known they had an axe to grind against Politis and Berry because of the previous disciplinary action."

After Mahan won the election and took office, her administration began looking into the costs of maintaining the EMS LifeGuard Air Rescue Program, a program that brings together the Colonie EMS department and New York State Police on helicopter flight rescue missions.

The complaint describes Magguilli's inquiring about the programs' savings to Politis in early 2008.

"On or about Feb. 11, 2008, Mahan and Magguilli and Director of Operations Peter Gannon made a surprise 'raid' at the NYS Police Aviation demanding to see equipment," the statement said. It went on to describe a conversation between Mahan and Politis days before the incident in which the complaint states that Mahan ended her conversation, "by issuing a threat to Politis that, 'She was going to handle [me] in another way.'"

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