The New Hyde Park Board of Fire Commissioners has made a ruling in the case involving a father-son duo accused of stealing smoke detectors.
Tuesday night the board ruled to dismiss Michael Dolan Sr. from his duties as a firefighter, but voted to reinstate his son, Michael Dolan Jr. to the department.
The decision was made by three members of the fire commissioner board: Michael Bonura, John DiVello and John Waldron.
“We’re making not comments at this time and I believe counsel’s not making any comments also,” Bonura said Tuesday night at the fire department headquarters. “That’s our position right now. We’re not going to talk about it, we have nothing to say about it.”
Bonura cited slanted current media coverage of the case as his reasons for not taking any questions or revealing any information to the press.
Numerous calls to other members of the board of commissioners or fire department attorneys requesting comment or details on the decision were not returned.
“We’re going to appeal it; we’ll see them in court,” Michael Dolan Jr. said, adding that his father had no comment on the litigation.
The senior Dolan could only be removed from his position as a fire commissioner through an appeal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature.
The Dolans were brought up on both criminal and departmental charges for allegedly stealing smoke detectors from the department in 2012. The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office eventually dropped the criminal charges. However, any member of the fire department has a right to have a hearing before an arbitrator. The charges were originally filed by New Hyde Park Board of Fire Commissioners Chairman Richard Stein.
A departmental hearing was held in January in which prosecutors senior Dolan obtained 150 smoke detectors from the Nassau County Fire Museum and brought 100 to the fire department “on the merits of the program,” in reference to a smoke detector program the board of commissioners was running. Ultimately the detectors were property of the department given by the museum.
The program consisted of members of the department installing detectors for the elderly who may not have one in their home. The nature of the program was contested by the defense stating it was a program strictly for batteries for smoke detectors.
The prosecution stated at the hearing the senior Dolan then removed 82 detectors from a secured location, referencing a videotape marked for evidence. Dolan reportedly conceded he took the detectors in a board meeting, as previously mentioned. On behest of the commissioners he was asked to return them, but only returned 65 detectors. He reportedly again took the 65 smoke detectors and returned 36 to the fire museum.
In his arguments, defense attorney Michael T. Cornacchia conceded the Dolans took the detectors but did so without criminal intent and not for personal gain. At the hearing the defense put forth that the charges – the taking of the equipment for personal gain and actions unbecoming of a member of the department – were a personal vendetta.
Attorney Walter Wagner served as the hearing officer, which recommended Dolan’s dismissal.
When reached by telephone on Friday, Cornacchia stated that he plans to appeal the decision on behalf of the senior Dolan, who still has time left on his elected position as one of the fire commissioners of New Hyde Park.
In a letter dated March 17 to the fire board of commissioners, Cornacchia calls the then-possible decision of dismissal a “radical sentence” that is “vastly disproportionate to the offenses on which Mr. Wagner found Commissioner Dolan guilty and with other punishments meted out to members of the Department for violations of its rules and regulations.”
The defense is seeking Dolan’s restoration and a sentence of time already served on his suspension as sentence.