Following allegations that police documents were shredded in the days before Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson assumed his post one year ago, detectives with Suffolk County District Attorney's Office Government Corruption Bureau subpoenaed the Southampton Town clerk's office Wednesday.
The detectives seized boxes of documents from in Southampton Village that had been transferred one year ago from in Hampton Bays. The move comes "as part of an active investigation of the custodianship and status of police department records stored there," said Robert Clifford, the spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota.
A copy of the subpoena obtained by Patch Wednesday afternoon was addressed to the Southampton Town's "custodian of records" in the matter of "a criminal action presented by the People of the State of New York against JOHN DOE."
The subpoena demands "Any and all records documents, files, folders, boxes, audio recordings, video records or other images transported on or about May 13, 2011" as well as logs of who accessed or possessed the records since that date.
A Town Police Department memo that accompanies the subpoena says the boxes of documents "represent every confidential personnel police investigation from the police department from the years 1990-2009."
The memo was dated May 13, 2011, and states that Town Management Services Administrator Russell Kratoville received the documents, and they were transported by Town Clerk/Records Management Officer Sundy Schermeyer and escorted by Sgt. Michael Joyce. The memo is also signed by former Capt. Anthony Tenaglia, who had vied against Wilson for the chief's post before retiring. Wilson assumed the role May 16.
The seizure comes five days after , the former head of the Police Department's defunct street crime unit.
“The documents have been the focus of some conversation over the last year,” Wilson said Wednesday morning, explaining there there were concerns of records being removed or tampered with.
Wilson said he could not speak to what information the documents contain.
“That’s the problem — I don’t know," he said. "They were removed before I started working there.”
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst had ordered the documents moved to Town Hall to protect their integrity, Wilson said. “We have been having discussions on how to best transfer the documents back to the police department. The town attorney’s office prepared a protocol to facilitate that transfer.”
Throne-Holst said she received a call at approximately 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning from the district attorney’s office, letting her know that the town would be served with the subpoena.
Approximately seven boxes of records were removed, according to Throne-Holst. She said the records had been initially removed from the police department at the time of the transition to the new police chief in May.
At that time, Throne-Holst said, “We got reports of documents being shredded and possibly leaving the premises.”
She addressed the situation and the decision was made to move the files to Town Hall during the course of the transition to secure them, she said. “I thought that was the prudent thing to do."
While she has not seen the boxes, Throne-Holst said it was “fair to assume” the contents include personnel and internal investigative files. “Other than that, I can’t begin to speculate about whether whatever they contain is anything of substance as it relates to an ongoing investigation or not. That’s what the DA’s office is trying to ascertain.”