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The Final Blow to Ambulance's Old Guard?

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 10:52

An effort to dissolve the original association

An East Hampton Village ambulance on the job last summer
Durell Godfrey

Mary Mott, chief of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association, along with Mary Ellen McGuire, the first assistant chief, Laura Van Binsbergen, the treasurer, and Suzanne Dayton, the secretary, have filed an Article 78 petition in Suffolk County Supreme Court, to dissolve the ambulance association.

“The corporation should be dissolved as there is significant internal dissension, and two or more factions of members are so divided that dissolution would be beneficial to the members,” reads the petition, filed on their behalf by the Pinsky Law Group. “In short, an illegal and unauthorized coup has taken place, and a lawsuit has been initiated as a result.”

Ms. Mott said in a phone call yesterday morning that the catalyst for the dissolution came when someone attempted to open a bank account using the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association’s unique nine-digit identification number used by the Internal Revenue Service for tax reporting purposes.

“It’s like if someone took your credit card. You have to do something about it,” she said.

Mayor Jerry Larsen said the village Police Department was investigating the incident. Jeffrey Erickson, acting chief of the department, could not be reached for comment before publication.

The petition lists five reasons for dissolution, the first, “The corporation cannot fulfill its corporate purposes, as the village no longer desires its services.”

“Due to all the disfunction [sic] and toxicity within and created by certain present and former members of the Corporation, and due to the illegal and unauthorized actions of some members and former members, the Village of East Hampton will no longer work with the Corporation.”

After dissolution, the petition asks that the funds of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association be transferred to a new nonprofit corporation that was set up in October 2023, called the East Hampton Village Ambulance Members, Inc. “The Village will have fiduciary control over the new corporation to ensure that its funds benefit the corporate purposes and the community,” reads the petition. “Should the Court instead prefer to transfer some or all of the assets to the Village of East Hampton, the Village would support this but prefers that the assets be given to the East Hampton Village Ambulance Members, Inc.”

Marcos Baladron, the village administrator, said, “It’s essentially a legal way to shut down the E.H.V.A.A. because there is so much confusion. They’re fund-raising illegally, fraudulently opening bank accounts. We’re not pressing charges, but at the same time, this is nuts.”

“I knew they were going to do this because every time the mayor or the chiefs deny something they are accused of, it is exactly what they had planned all along,” said Teresa Bertha, who makes a competing claim to be the chief of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association. “It’s not right that this man is making decisions that affect the taxpayers of the Town of East Hampton and we have no say in it. We didn’t vote for him, but I will give him this. He gets his minions to carry out his dirty work and his fingerprints are nowhere near the evidence. This is a horrible way that we get to say, ‘I told you so.’ “

Over the protest of many longtime ambulance members, last April the village approved the creation of a new Department of Emergency Medical Service that would take over ambulance response for the village and the Northwest Fire Protection District, relegating the ambulance association to the role of a fraternal organization.

Ms. Bertha was among those who vehemently opposed the move. She filed a petition of her own on behalf of the ambulance association in November to be allowed to sue the village for taking over the association’s ambulance certificate and its bank account. That petition was rejected earlier this year, but Ms. Bertha is appealing.

As for her comments this week, “Ms. Bertha does not rise to a level that requires a response,” said the mayor. He said the petition is coming from the leadership of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association and not the village. “That being said, the village supports their effort as it is clear the organization is dysfunctional to say the least.”

“Jerry had his eyes on that money all along, and the fact is that he doesn’t work well with strong women, especially when they say no to him,” said Ms. Bertha.

“I know they’re going to say the village is going to steal the money, but that’s not going to happen,” said Ms. Mott. “The funds in that account will be used in the same way they’ve always been. There will be no change in that.”

“This has to end somehow. This war cannot keep going,” said Ms. Mott. “It’s emotionally draining on everyone. It must be hard on the people who are so angry. Maybe at some point they’ll have some clarity in their vision. You can’t go forward if you can’t accept change, or at least come up with some type of compromise. The only resolution, it had to be shut down and a new one opened.”

 

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