Yonkers Inspector General “Investigation” of City Council President Khader Mike

Tribune Law, People, Politics, Yonkers, NY 48 Comments

Debra S. Cohen, Esq., co-chairs the Civil Rights Practice Group at Newman Ferrara LLP where she concentrates in litigation involving police misconduct. Ms. Cohen’s first civil rights case involved the 1996 death of Charles Campbell — shot in a Westchester parking lot by an off-duty New York City police officer (who was later convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to twenty years to life in prison). In a subsequently filed civil suit, a federal jury awarded the Campbell family a multi-million dollar verdict. Since then, Ms. Cohen has represented a wide variety of clients whose civil rights and constitutional entitlements were violated by police, schools, local planning and building department officials, as well as private employers. She utilizes a variety of strategies to achieve the best possible outcome, including litigation, negotiation, media, and community-based organizing. Ms. Cohen is admitted in the State of New York, as well as the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She is a graduate of Vassar College and Pace University Law School.

Professor Randolph M. McLaughlin, a graduate of Columbia College and Harvard Law School, became Of Counsel to Newman Ferrara LLP in September 2011. Professor McLaughlin is a faculty member at Pace University School of Law, where he teaches courses focusing on civil rights, litigation, labor law, voting rights, civil procedure, and New York practice.

PREAMBLE: Yonkers City Council President Mike Khader’s Legal Counsel have requested that the subpoena against their client be withdrawn asserting improper and illegal issuance and all pending investigation actions be suspended on the basis defined herein…

FROM: Newman Ferrara LLP 1250 Broadway, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10001

DATED: June 14, 2021

Via email only

TO: Joseph B. Cartafalsa, Esq. Ogeletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., 599 Lexington Avenue, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10022

Re: Yonkers Inspector General “Investigation” of City Council President Khader.

Dear Mr. Cartafalsa:

As you are aware, we represent City Council President Michael Khader in regards to an “investigation”, including a subpoena served on the Yonkers Corporation Counsel on June 3, 2021, by Inspector General Liam McLaughlin. Our initial response on behalf of the City Council President, pursuant to NY§ CPLR 2304, is to request that the subpoena be withdrawn because it has been improperly and illegally issued and all pending investigation actions be suspended for the reasons discussed below.

First and foremost, Mr. Khader categorically denies the “allegations” that motivated issuance of this subpoena, to wit, accusations by anonymous sources that: 1) the operation of his private law practice in the same building that houses the law firm Smith Buss & Jacobs in any way violated, now or in the past, the Ethics Code of the City of Yonkers, as well as any and all applicable City and State laws, and 2) the actions of Mr. Khader created or contributed  to  a “hostile work environment” in the Office of the City Council President.

There are two major deficiencies undermining the legitimacy of this subpoena and the investigation commenced by the Inspector General. Unless they are immediately remedied, pursuit of the “investigation” the subpoena purports to further threatens the already fragile public perception that the operation of government in the City of Yonkers rests on a foundation of transparency, accountability and integrity.

City of Yonkers Inspector General Liam McLaughlin, Esq.

Yonkers City Council President MIke Khader, Esq.

Inspector General McLaughlin commenced his investigation into the two anonymous allegations in response to a letter signed by six members of the City Council in their official capacities. It was issued on stationery with the heading ” Office of the Yonkers City Council” and each member signed as the council member of their respective districts. Section C7-2(A) of the City Charter does indeed state that “the Inspector General shall make any investigation directed by the Mayor or the Council.” For the City Council to “direct” an action requires compliance with Public Officers Law, Article 7 (the “Open Meetings Law”). Communication outside public scrutiny amongst the members may, in some circumstances, be permissible. But, an act of decision-making by a quorum of the Council, such as six members directing an investigation be commenced by the Inspector General, requires strict application of the Open Meetings Law. The public’s right to know the basis of such a weighty decision by its legislative body, and to be afforded an opportunity to be heard prior to it being implemented, is mandatory not optional.

Inspector General McLaughlin has himself recognized that his participation in an investigation of these “allegations” against City Council Khader is problematic because of the appearance of a conflict of interest. In an email to the City Council, dated May 20, 2021, he stated, “In order to keep the requested investigation beyond reproach, and free from any appearance of conflict of interest, this investigation will be conducted by an external firm that will report their findings to my office and to the City Council.” Despite his acknowledgement that his involvement creates a clear appearance of a conflict of interest, Inspector General McLaughlin issued the June 3rd subpoena. He continues to supervise and direct the underlying investigation, albeit somewhat “behind the scenes.” To comply with the letter and spirit of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law, Inspector General McLaughlin should immediately recuse himself from any role in investigative activities related to City Council President Khader , and any prior decisions and actions he has taken, should be rescinded until a legally viable alternative

NEWMAN FERRARA LLP, 1250 Broadway, 27th Fl., New York, NY 10001

Inspector General McLaughlin has himself recognized that his participation in an investigation of these “allegations” against City Council Khader is problematic because of the appearance of a conflict of interest. In an email to the City Council, dated May 20, 2021, he stated, “In order to keep the requested investigation beyond reproach, and free from any appearance of conflict of interest, this investigation will be conducted by an external firm that will report their findings to my office and to the City Council.” Despite his acknowledgement that his involvement creates a clear appearance of a conflict of interest, Inspector General McLaughlin issued the June 3rd subpoena. He continues to supervise and direct the underlying investigation, albeit somewhat “behind the scenes.” To comply with the letter and spirit ofArticle 18 of the General Municipal Law, Inspector General McLaughlin should immediately recusehimself from any role in investigative activities related to City Council President K.hader , and any prior decisions and actions he has taken, should be rescinded until a legally viable alternative is dulyappointed.

Time is of the essence to remedy the significant failings that have occurred thus far in the actions taken by the City Council and Office of the Inspector General. It is our hope to avoid the necessity of seeking judicial intervention before further damage is done to the reputation of the City of Yonkers and its public officials, including our client. However, unless or until a proper investigation is commenced and an acting independent inspector general is appointed in the appropriate manner, all activities related to this investigationshould be suspended, including, but not limited to, issuance of additional subpoenas and interviews of staff members in the Office of the City Council President. Unless we have received the necessary assurances, by close of business on June 15, 2021, that the issues raised herein have been resolved, we will seek immediate judicial intervention.

Very truly yours,

NEWMAN FERRARA LLP

Debra S. Cohen

cc:Via email only

Inspector General Liam McLaughlin

City of Yonkers Corporation Counsel Matthew Gallagher

Counsel for the City Council Majority Christian DiPalermo

Counsel for the City Council Minority Mark Constantine

Members of the Yonkers City Council

 

TribuneYonkers Inspector General “Investigation” of City Council President Khader Mike

Comments 48

  1. Khader ‘allegations’ are last minute typical yonkers smear, to deny an independent vote and NOT rubber stamping ANOTHER term in office for spano and his clown appointed fat cats, carrot top included

  2. With all of these accusations about Mike Khader mistreating women and his employees, I can not believe his ex-wife Sandra has not been mentioned. Mike Khader stole from her and lost all of her money with his online gambling addiction. Sandra and her family were terrorized and threatened by Mike and John Khader when she filed for divorce. #soundfamiliar #allthewayup

  3. Hezi- you have not posted any of my comments against Lakeisha. Her run for CCP is a set up!

    I would hate to think you’re doing this intentionally. I comment here because you are the only person in Yonkers media that “keeps It real”. I hope you’re not being bought out by the Spano machine. You’re better than that!

      1. I’m not even going to answer your question. You’ve been doing this for years and you’re not new to the Spano corruption. I am disappointed, Hezi.

        1. You have a right to be disappointed. And, so do I. I have been writing about the issues for over 21 years. interestingly, the issues raised seem to fall on deaf ears. Writing or engaging in radio broadcasting goes only so far. Perhaps people are more aware today because of my work or because of some other reason. What I have come to realize is that the voters are the ones that have jettisoned their capacity to infuse the system as they perceive it best for CoY. And that is why my writing has failed. It is because the voters were not engaged, voted for those employed by the city by casting their vote for Martinelli, Spencer, Amicone, Spano, as well as members of the NYS Senate and Assembly, the U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, some good, some not so good. Have we learned who is doing the heavy lifting or do we simply know their name because we have elected them into office only to continue their time at the helm with tepid regard for the voter. No matter how you may view the reporting, I suggest it is not the new media, and certainly not the old media that have any, or perhaps only a slight input in the final outcome. It is the voter who rules. The voters will decide who stays and who goes. Why they say yea or nay is up to their self-interest. And Yonkers must easily employ over 5,000 employees between City Hall and the Board of Education. Those numbers translate in a city whose population is easily over 50 plus years of age. Most of those employees are married, some straight, some gay. Those who could bear children or adopted children whether one or two or three or none, have children of voting age and they will vote for the parent or friend that holds a job with the city. Add up all those employed, married or friends to the employed city workers or a child of those workers, and you have a winning hand. Those votes tally over 15,000 votes and invariably, they go for the mayor and the people his administration supports. there is no right or wrong. there is simply self-interest. At the end of the day, voters will speak and the numbers will knight the victorious. if one doesn’t sit comfortably with the primary election or the general election, it would be prudent for those who have interest to run to engage in their campaign whether it be two or four years hence from now. if you are perturbed by an outcome, say something. many comments suggest that this person or that person investigate this one or another. they don’t reveal the issue or the rationale for such investigation, instead it is an effort to undermine another.

          Then there is the legal assaults thrown left and right. In the case of the Khader affair, how could it possibly happen with avlawyer representing the Democrats, a lawyer representing the Republicans, and a-lawyer representing the City Council President that not one of the three so employed recognized, if it is a legal issue to which I cannot opine because I am not aware of that issue in the Yonkers City Council bylaws, that suggests recalling endorsement of Mike Khader for CCP is not permissible conduct. yet interesting not one of the legal eagles spotted the deficiency or warned of its lack of pertinence in the case. The Yonkers City Council has the means to subpoena evidence should they want it, but they chose not to do so. Why, don’t those legal eagles that together get paid $200,000 per annum hold onto their position when they have failed to guide the collective interests of the City Council with credible legal points. not a word from anyone. Does anyone care? where are they?

          Will we hear about this 5 years from now? Perhaps Ten years hence; likely never.

          So while so many are taking home a fat paycheck, the public is marginalized because they have yet to collectively learn whether their votes matter. When Yonkers figure that out, the demeanor and outcome of CoY will change for the better in increments and over time. the failing is our collective disinterest in our collective ability to change governance. As we believe it is best for Yonkersites.

          And that people is my two cents worth. Tomorrow is another day.

          kindly, Hezi

          P.S. if you know something say something. Proof is required, as is your identity. If you can’t or don’t want to trust me, I can appreciate your reluctance. innuendo or circumstantial evidence is not sufficient.

          I am sitting on over 5 issues that seem plausible, yet cannot be Corrobrated by those who I can trust. If those that told me what they knew with trust, perhaps those issues could change the way CoY does business. name calling, disparaging language, innuendo, and the like are of little consequence. Truth and facts that can be validated are the name of the game.

          Kindly, Hezi

  4. If khader is innocent why is he hiding??
    Why did he hire lawyers???
    This is the end to the Khader’s
    Yonkers is done with corrupt families

    Let’s clean Yonkers
    Vote for Lakisha Collins Bellamy

  5. Spano wants a fourth term and need a unanimous council vote so he doesn’t need to sign off on it.
    Lakisha Collins Bellamy is being bought with all these endorsements.
    Disgraceful

  6. Mike Khader is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He maketh me to lie down in Top Class Limo: he leadeth me beside the still waters pf Sprain Lake.
    He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley ofVan der Donck Park, I will fear no Spano: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Khader for ever.

  7. A couple of things are interesting here. Firstly, I imagine that the Khader family were really excited to get this letter up from their “elite” legal team, which is riddled with typos and a repeated paragraph. Not sure what to make of that.

    Secondly, I think it’s important to note that the IG has discretionary investigatory powers, in addition to being responsive to the City Council. Wouldn’t it be a pretty ridiculous loophole that a single member of the council would be able to hold up an investigation into themselves, which is being requested by literally every single colleague they have? This letter is grasping at straws, and only attempting to delay subpoenas before the election. Also, the allegations facing Khader are hardly anonymous – those concerning his office have been clearly and transparently sourced on this website, and the relationship with Buss has a distinct paper trail associated with it.

    This stuff is just embarrassing to everybody – the city, the voters, even the Khader family. Please let it stop.

  8. I don’t need a subpoena to tell everything that I know. I’m a former Khader employee and plan on coming forward to do anything I can to help the investigation

  9. Khader put this story to bed!!!!

    Show the canceled checks and let’s move on to the next story here!!!

    You do have them, right???

  10. Who is paying Newman Ferrara’s legal bill? They are a prestigious NYC law firm and I can’t imagine they charge less than $1,000.00 per hour. Is this being footed by the Yonkers taxpayers? Any way to find out Hezi?

  11. You cannot defeat Mike Khader with a Puppet Princess and a phony story.

    Mike has a strong following in Yonkers because he is independent, effective, friendly and handsome.
    No 70 year old Assemblyman fat cigar puffing coward can defeat him

    #Khaderstrong

    1. Lol Johnny Khader called somebody fat that should be enough for everybody in this city to see how out of touch these people are with reality.

      1. The only ones who want Khader out are Nick, Vinny, and Mike or as they are known at the YPD checkpoint: Moe, Larry , and Curley.

        Mike Khader will be sitting on the second floor as he select his replacement for City Council President, Freddy Vasquez.

      2. The Yonkers voters want Spano to STOP being a dictator and interfering in elections as he pulls the strings for all his puppet candidates, ie Alvarado, Lakisha, Rubbo, Corazon and Williams. The last 3 need to file their campaign financial reports, very delinquent, what’s up with that?? Where is BOE compliance and enforcement?

        The Yonkers taxpayers want the Spano regime and nepotism to end. The Yonkers taxpayers want true independence and accountability from the Council.

        The Yonkers voters want the campaign negativity to end. The Yonkers voters want all candidates to act civilly and to debate the issues and reveal their platforms.

        Khader is far from perfect, but it’s obvious Khader is a threat to the Spano succession plan when the “political establishment” is fighting so hard to slander and defame him and his family. Makes me think Khader is doing something right!

        Instead the candidates should be focusing on the issues that matter most to Yonkers including fiscal responsibility, improving education, getting a voter-elected school board, building neighborhood schools and addressing crime, drugs, homelessness, affordable housing, potholes, rats, garbage, illegal dumping, slum landlords, etc., etc.,

        But, then again, this is Yonkers…

        1. The above comment was written by a Khader or Khader employee.

          I agree with you that Khader is far from perfect, but I would caution anybody who thinks that he is the solution to our problems. Let’s face it: the guy is completely inept. We’ve seen in the last four years how he goes about things, and it isn’t meaningfully different from the Spanos – he just does it more incompetently. The idea that he is positioning himself for mayor is really scary; do we really want to give this guy more power and more opportunity to do everything he has been doing?

          Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like the current state of “business as usual,” but Khader is the furthest thing from the solution.

  12. Khader’s hired gun is clearly attempting to muddy the investigation into the Office of the City Council President. It’s not improper for the Inspector General to initiate an investigation into someone within his immediate purview. McLaughlin didn’t unilaterally issue these subpoenas either, in fact he only elected to do so after the entire City Council unanimously asked him to do so. The issuance of subpoenas doesn’t necessarily mean that McLaughlin is conducting an investigation from his office. Knowing that he is is predecessor, it could very well be that to avoid the semblance of impropriety that he might’ve already turned the case over to another public integrity unit better equipped to handle this matter (e.g Westchester DA, NYS AG, DOJ). He would be a fool not to, given the severity of these allegations and the deafening silence from the CCP when given the opportunity to set the record straight. Instead, Khader continues to exhibit support from blind loyalists without addressing allegations of corruption.

    As a voter, I’m extraordinarily disappointed. Just four short years ago I supported Mike Khader under the impression that he was committed to reforming the politics of business as usual in the City of Yonkers. However, it’s clear that he simply wanted to be at the helm. It’s all very simple Mike, if the detractors are attempting to pin you with these supposed false allegations, show us the receipts that absolve you of what you’re accused of. Just show us where you’ve been paying your landlord/counsel and we can go on our merry way. It’s not like you have anything to hide right? Surely there must be another reason as to why you backed out of meeting with the Journal News when presented with an opportunity to clear the air and a sufficient platform to exonerate yourself, right?

  13. The investigation of CCP Khader by the appointed political Inspector General is a joke . More wasted taxpayers money on investigations similar to McCarthy era witch hunts from the 1950’s. Let the good people of Yonkers decide on Tuesday June 22nd.(Stay in the good fight Mike. Don’t lose you’re confidence. You’ll prevail against those who have betrayed you. ATG and the coward assemblyman.

  14. hezi i would like to have some commentary here
    Do you think these legal tactics by Mike Khader is an attempt to delay the investigation?

    Also if Mike khader has evidence he did not commit these crimes? Why delay…

  15. This is another one of those hilarious stories out of the City of Hills. I still can’t stop LMAO. Yonkers is a hoot top to bottom. First Pagano and now this. Of course this is all party politics in an election year.

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