YORKTOWN, N.Y.—William LaPierre, the owner of Clark Funeral Home, has filed a lawsuit against Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo and others for several hundred thousands of dollars LaPierre claims DiBartolo misappropriated from the town.
A month earlier, DiBartolo filed a suit against LaPierre and another resident, Fred Gulitz, for defamation. Both DiBartolo and LaPierre's attorneys said the two suits were not filed in response to one another.
LaPierre's suit, filed Feb. 21 in Westchester County’s Supreme Court, charges DiBartolo with using his position as highway superintendent to misappropriate money from Yorktown. LaPierre and his business, which is operated in Yorktown, Clark Funeral Home, are suing on behalf of the Town of Yorktown, the suit states, and names DiBartolo, Envirostar Corp, Yorktown Funeral Home and “John Does 1 through 10,” alleging that there are 10 others “associated with DiBartolo and involved in the fraudulent scheme committed against the Town of Yorktown.”
According to the suit, DiBartolo "is believed to have enriched himself and friends by utilizing a number of "no bid" contracts; undisclosed business interests; using Town equipment, personnel and resources for personal benefit; secretly working for Town vendors who were doing business with the Town; violating a host of financial safeguards designed to protect the Town; having Town personnel perform work on his personal vehicles; undisclosed financial interests; submitting falsified payroll records; and a host of other financial improprieties amounting to a massive fraud and breach of fiduciary duty."
LaPierre and Gulitz, along with a third activist, Steven Gardner have been alleging these claims against DiBartolo for several years.
LaPierre’s attorney David Wright explained that, as an individual in town who owns a certain amount of property, LaPierre is able to sue on behalf of the town as a taxpayer.
“If they own a certain amount of real estate in the town, they have the right to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the town, to collect money that people have allegedly misappropriated from the town,” he said. “It’s one of the few rights that taxpayers have and its really only used as a last resort.”
Wright said his client decided to file the suit following the release of a state audit and other information brought to his attention.
DiBartolo’s suit, filed Jan. 18 of this year, charges LaPierre and Gulitz with making defamatory statements against the highway chief. It seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
According to the suit, LaPierre's profits were threatened when DiBartolo helped open Yorktown Funeral Home in January of 2011.
“In order to harm Plaintiff’s reputation, and also harm the only direct competition for Clark Funeral Home, LaPierre publicly and falsely accused Plaintiff of using Town resources for his own personal gain,” the suit reads.
This is not the first suit DiBartolo has filed against the duo, and Wright said he believes it will be dismissed just as the first was.
“I’m going to move to dismiss this one also. The defendant takes the position that the lawsuit is frivolous and will be dismissed,” Wright said.
Amy Bellantoni, who is acting as DiBartolo’s attorney for his defamation suit against LaPierre and Gulitz as well as a separate suit against former Supervisor Susan Siegel, said she had received the lawsuit against DiBartolo Wednesday but had not yet had time to review it and issue comments.
Should LaPierre win the suit on behalf of the town, the town would be given a check and then have the ability to disburse or use it as it saw fit.
LaPierre only wished for his lawyer to speak on the matter, as did Gulitz, whose lawyer did not return a request for comment as of Wednesday. Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace and DiBartolo were also not available for comment Wednesday.