Crookhampton? Perhaps.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Crookhampton? Perhaps.

Updated 08/27/2009 – 12:45 pm

When OtBB uncovered the unlicensed com­mercial lodging then Deputy Mayor Jim Kamet­ler's wife was operating at 24 Oak Street, there was considerable comment on the 27East re­port of the "scoop."

One, with the nom de 'Net "wow," posted:

"[Y]ou are assuming Jim K. is reading these blogs at all. He's so corrupt that WHB is now known as Crookhampton."

Ouch!

The reference, as most realized, was scandal-ridden Brookhaven Town's own opprobrious nickname of "Crookhaven."

(This dated back to the early '60s1 and the GOP leadership of Medford car dealer Richard Zeidler. Subsequent corruption investigations which nabbed, among others, John McNamara and John Powell, assured that "Crookhaven" would stick.)

Despite the other-than-ethical activities of some of the present Village Board, happily it's difficult to try to hang "Crookhampton" on Westhampton Beach.

Or at least it has been.

Then l'affaire Pamela Betheil surfaced last month when felony and misdemeanor charges were lodged against the Brookhaven Town Clerk. She is alleged to have defrauded2 over 100 Long Island couples out of thousands of dollars when she charging more than the legal limit for performing weddings.

Hmmmn! And hmmmn, again!

Also at last month's Organizational Meeting deposed Deputy Mayor Jim Kametler declined to be reappointed as a Marriage Officer.

And hmmmn a third time! What was this about?

Under a Freedom of Information request, docu­ments were obtained that should give at least two Village Trustees pause the next time there's an unexpected knock at their door.

Between August 2006 and May 2009, Mayor Conrad Teller and Trustees Jim Kametler, as Deputy Mayor, and Toni Jo Birk, performed a total of 18 wedding ceremonies at various locations within the Village, including some on Village property: Rogers Beach, the Village Green and Village Hall.

Of the four performed by Mayor Teller, no money changed hands.

In each of the ceremonies conducted by Trustees Kametler (six3) and Birk (eight), a $200 "gratuity" was involved.

Section 805-b of New York State General Municipal Law, Solemnization of marriages, states:

"Notwithstanding any statute, law or rule to the contrary, no public officer listed in section eleven of the domestic relations law shall be prohibited from accepting any fee or compensation having a value of one hundred dollars or less, whether in the form of money, property, services or entertainment, for the solemnization of a marriage by such public officer at a time and place other than the public officer's normal public place of business, during normal hours of business. For the purpose of this section, a town or village judge's normal hours of business shall mean those hours only which are officially scheduled by the court for the performing of the judicial function."

In plain English, public officials designated as Marriage Officers, are capped at $1004 for per­forming a wedding ceremony.

Further, if the ceremony is performed in Vil­lage Hall, nothing of value may be accepted.

On February 14th of this year, then Deputy Mayor Kametler presided over the wedding of Christopher Bonamo and Nicole Morgan at 1:00 pm in Village Hall, and collected a "gratuity" of $200.

Trustees Kametler and Birk had earlier also performed marriages on the Village Green and at Rogers Beach, in each instance collecting a "gratuity" of $200. However it is unclear as to whether the proscription against any form of remuneration is limited to Village Hall or ex­tends to all municipal property.

So now we know why Trustee Kametler didn't want to continue performing marriages... reasoning if maybe he stopped then, the statue of limitations would expire at that point.

One also must wonder if any of the ceremonies Trustee Kametler performed, were in any way related to commercial activities at the 24 Oak Street Bed & Breakfast operated without benefit of license by Mrs. Kametler, who goes by the name of Meyer.

Notes
  1. Newsday dates it 400 years earlier. In June 2003, it published an editorial on a spate of the indictments involving Brook­haven figures: "'Crookhaven.' A Tradition Since 1665/The Long Island Town that scandal never forgot."
  2. Charged is First-Degree Scheme to De­fraud, a felony, and Official Misconduct, a misdemeanor, and could, if convicted, result in a 28-to-60 month prison term.
  3. The sole exception was a ceremony the then Deputy Mayor presided over at Atlantica in August 2007 for his step-daughter. Apparently no gratuity was requested.
  4. NYCOM has finally been heard from on this. See "Damnest thing...."

Comments

1. Eileen Dover said...

Your investigative skills never cease to amaze me. Keep up the good work.

2. EastEnd68 said...

Why nothing about the police chief situation?

And just what "situation" would that be?
Dean

3. Jerry Steiner said...

Times-a-changin'. When I married me bride of 29 years. Cost me some blood and a bottle of Johnny Walker Red for the J.P.

Then again, in Riverhead we are far more civilized.

Feel the love... ice cold beer... Jerry

Cost me bupkus... the Town Clerk came to the house, did the deed and had a piece of wedding cake.

Sundy Schermeyer's so straight, she probably declared the value... both monitary and caloric... on a form somewhere.

I remember the blood thing from my first marriage back in '65. One of my friends got to the lab tech at Southampton Hospital, and he came out waving some forms and announced "Well, you two aren't getting married in this state!"

Big yuks! Several weeks later he was drinking with some friends in Mitty's General Store in Water Mill, and left early because of some lower G.I. distress... horse laxative'll do that to a fella!
Dean

4. Mrs Genetics said...

Hanging the Crookhampton shingle gets a bit easier if one includes private citizens like the alleged schemer Mr. Guldi. (BTW, I remember when George was an altar boy.)

Sorry, while I understand your qualifier, almost by definition, those in the private sector are excluded.
Dean

5. Hampton West said...

Dean,

Could it be they were just not clear of what the law was and made a mistake? Granted, they should have checked it but it doesn't seem like they are running a marriage mill.

Why HW, you ol' apologist. you!

Like Caesar's wife, those in the public trust need for their skirts to be spotless, #1, and, #2, ignorance of the law has never been much of a defense.

I might feel a little more charitable had the deposed Deputy Mayor, upon learning of his problem earlier this Spring, contacted those couples whose weddings he performed, and said something to the effect of: "I've just been informed that it is illegal for me to have accepted this large a fee even as a 'gratuity,' so I'm returning that to which I'm not entitled."

That would have evidenced both character and integrity, but remember we're talking Jimmy Kametler here.
Dean

6. EastEnd68 said...

Considering that it was Jimmy I'm sure $200 was the discounted rate for friends and guests at the B&B

7. Beachgirl978 said...

I agree with Hampton West, it seems like no one knew there was a limit. However, the real story is whether the Kametlers used their inside information to advertise their B&B to the relatives of the couples he was going to marry. If I was some of the other B&B operators I would be pretty angry about an elected official getting an unfair advantage especially since the B&B was not legal!

How "forgiving" of you and HW. Scant wonder he continues to be successful at the polls.
Dean

8. RedHeadMom said...

"Then l'affaire Pamela Betheil surfaced last month when felony and misdemeanor charges were lodged against the Brookhaven Town Clerk."
Should not the same happen to Kametler, or will this be overlooked like everything else in this Village?

It is insulting how the regular folk have to follow the law, but those in government can get away with ignoring/breaking the law.
Yeah, there's that. It will only end when the real locals decide "¡Basta!" and vote the rascals out of office.
Dean

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