The legal battle between realtor Larry Oxman and the Town of Riverhead continues: Oxman has filed a notice of claim for a $10 million malicious prosecution case against Riverhead and several former town officials.
After all charges in late April, Riverhead Town countered, , the next step in a seven-year battle.
Riverhead Town officials alleged that Oxman and Riverhead Park Corp. illegally cleared 13 acres adjacent to Riverhead Raceway and in late 2004, slapped him and the corporation that owns the Route 58 land with over 50 violations.
In addition to the town itself, the claim lists former Supervisor Phil Cardinale, former Town Council Members Barbara Blass and George Bartunek, former Town Attorney Dawn Thomas, former Chief Building Inspector Leroy Barnes, and current Town Code Investigator Richard Downs.
“I was wrongfully accused of violating the town code,” Oxman said this week. “At great expense, I was forced to legally defend myself.”
Oxman said a charge of violating the tidal and freshwater wetlands regulations of the Riverhead town code for clearing without a permit was "baseless."
“Now it is time for the Town of Riverhead, Cardinale, Blass, Bartunek, Barnes, and Dawn Thomas to be held accountable for their baseless and malicious actions,” Oxman said. "I believe the previous town board and town attorney embarked on a mission of vengeance and punishment. They ignored the very town code they were sworn to uphold. They overstepped their bounds."
Oxman said the town sought to "punish" him for his desire to use his property for an agricultural use, which, "at the time, was a permitted use. I have been found innocent. However, unlike me, I believe they will have a very tough time in court proving their innocence.”
Riverhead Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said on Thursday because the matter concerns litigation, "I would rather not comment at this time."
Oxman said he believes there is a lot of misinformation that exists that he'd like to shed light upon. For one, he no longer owns the property, which was "unfortunately" lost in foreclosure -- as a result of litigation and violations the town issued he was unable to refinance or sell the parcel. "The town caused inumberable hardships on myself and my partners," he said.
In addition, Oxman said he never had plans to open a Christmas Tree Shop on the property (); a concept for healthy food market with a mixed herb farm component would have been "unique and very, very viable," he said.
Finally, Oxman said Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter had "quipped" that he and the town "should just call it even. I think that's a fairly outrageous statement," Oxman said. "The time to have called it quits was when he was first elected and I still owned the property. Now the damages are unbelievable."
Walter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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