Hempstead hires outside legal counsel in Malibu Beach dealings

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Hempstead took a step toward getting to the bottom of the town's controversial dealing with the operator of the popular Malibu Beach Park.

The Hempstead Town Board voted to hire a Rochester-based firm to serve as outside legal counsel in the controversy surrounding a disputed contract extension at Malibu Beach.

Town Supervisor Laura Gillen initially proposed hiring outside counsel to investigate the manner in which unelected town officials executed a contract extension with Dover Gourmet Corp. to operate the facility. But now, the scope of the counsel's role has widened.

"I always knew that litigation was likely on the forefront, but now, yes, things have changed because there has been a lawsuit filed," says Gillen.

Dover filed a lawsuit in Nassau County Supreme Court Monday seeking a declaratory judgment in respect to the contract extension. In a statement, Dover tells News 12, "While there have been comments made to the press, the proper forum for determination of these issues is a court of law. Dover has every intention of abiding by the Court's determination of the parties' contractual rights."

MORE: US Attorney’s Office serves Town of Hempstead with subpoena over Malibu Beach operator 

Dover's chief executive Butch Yamali says the contract is completely legal. Gillen has called it a "legal nullity." Meanwhile, as News 12 has reported, town officials say the feds are investigating the Dover deal as well.

"We want to make sure that what we're doing on our end, in no way interferes with what the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office is doing," says Gillen.

Only one member of the town board voted against the hiring of outside legal counsel -- senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, who says it is unnecessary.

"We already have our own investigators, I don't see why we need to hire more lawyers," says Goosby.

The town board tabled a resolution Tuesday that would have nullified its contract with Dover, instead allowing the courts to decide if the extension is legally binding.

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