The report is in, but is the issue over?
An investigation into a complaint filed by former East Hampton Town Council Chairwoman Melissa Engel concerning Police Chief Matt Reimondo and Sgt. Garritt Kelly has been completed.
The report, by Attorney Michael C. Harrington, a partner in the firm Murtha Cullina, found no evidence that the Code of Ethics or the police department's policy regarding Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer were violated. It did, however, offer some harsh criticism of the department's handling of its investigation into Engel.
Engel's complaint centered around the investigation by Kelly into her alleged mishandling of absentee ballots prior to the November 2010 election. The department found no criminal wrongdoing and Engel was later cleared by the State Election Enforcement Commission (SEEC) in on March 21, 2012. Her complaint to the town followed on April 5, alleging, among other things, that Reimondo and Kelly acted with malice.
Though Harrington's report, released Thursday, clears Reimondo and Kelly of the main charges, it does go into significant detail about several flaws in their investigation.
Among the flaws: A sworn written complaint should have been obtained prior to the investigation, the investigation by Kelly was unreasonably delayed, Kelly's investigation was not complete, Kelly's incident report contained certain factual errors and Reimondo "provided no supervision of Kelly."
The report concludes that there was no evidence presented that demonstrates Kelly's errors were intentional. It goes on to say that although Kelly's delayed referral to the SEEC might give rise to suspicion that he was trying to influence the 2011 municipal election, "Without further evidence," Harrington said, "I cannot conclude Kelly was so motivated." And Harrington's findings were just as critical of the Chief, suggesting that with adequate supervision "some or all of these concerns might have been avoided."
In the end, the evidence was not enough to charge Reimondo or Kelly with violating department policy, its Code of Ethics or acting in a disrcimanitory manner.
"While the investigation by Sergeant Kelly was flawed and Chief Reimondo did not adequately supervise Sergeant Kelly," the report states, "there is insufficient evidence to conclude that either Sergeant Kelly or Chief Reimondo violated the department's policies or Ms. Engel's rights."
Engel, who did not seek re-election in November, has been represented by Attorney Ken Barber of East Hampton during the investigations.
Engel was non-committal about what course of action, if any, she would pursue.
"My legal team and I are reviewing our options," she said Thursday, declining to comment further.
Though the report found no evidence on the more serious charges, it falls short of exonerating Reimondo or Kelly with how the investigation was conducted, leaving the town with a decision to make.
East Hampton's new town manager, Mike Masiscalco, on the job less than two weeks, had little to say until he had a chance to study the report more thoroughly.
"I think there's a lot of things I need to digest and think about first," he said. "It's something I don't think needs to be rushed into. I want to take my time and really think about the whole thing."
Reimondo was not available Thursday afternoon for comment.