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  • Rich Klein


Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Sullivan County is paying for Legislature Chair Robert Doherty's defense of a defamation lawsuit filed by Legislator Luis Alvarez, multiple sources have confirmed to The SullivanTimes today.

Alvarez did not sue the County, just Doherty, so it's unclear at press time who authorized the expense- which could be an illegal use of county dollars.

In addition, if the County Attorney's Office authorized it, it would be at the very least be unethical since the County Attorney represents all nine legislators and all county employees. And, payments to an outside law firm for such litigation would have had to be authorized by the Legislature in a resolution.

The SullivanTimes this afternoon has emailed the County, including County Manager Josh Potosek and County Treasurer Nancy Buck, to ask for a copy of the legal agreement and invoice from law firm O'Connor & Aronowitz, whose partner Stephen Coffey is representing Doherty.

That's the same firm that represented County Attorney Michael McGuire when the disgraced former judge was being investigated by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct during 2019 and early 2020 before the New York Court of Appeals removed him from the bench last August.

The SullivanTimes yesterday reported exclusively that Doherty was using the same law firm as McGuire and raised the question about who was paying for it.

In that story, McGuire said he could not comment about who was funding Doherty's legal defense due to "pending litigation." Coffey, too, only would confirm his representation of Doherty but would not disclose who was paying him.

At press time, it is unknown how much of taxpayer dollars are being used for the case.

The lawsuit filed by Alvarez came in response to spoken and written public comments made by Doherty that Alvarez had used the "C" word in reference to Stephanie Brown, the former commissioner of Health & Family Services.

However, the County Board of Ethics chair, John Kiefer, confirmed that Alvarez did not use the word and that it never came up in its investigation, which reportedly included an interview with Brown by the Ethics Board.

Meanwhile, Doherty just a few weeks ago called fellow Legislator Joe Perrello "a punk" three times at a meeting of the Legislature while publicly accusing him of improper behavior related to his business. That could result in more legal liability for Doherty in the future.



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