5 Southold town workers under investigation after 2-year investigation into police retirement party

Five employees of the town of Southold are under investigation in connection with an investigation into a retirement party in May 2020 for a police sergeant, who broke social distancing rules during the pandemic.

Southold Town Council suspended one of those workers without pay, but officials have not released the names of any of those involved.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell told News 12 that Captain James Ginas is now acting police chief. He would not comment on Chief Martin Flatley, who has been a veteran of the department for more than four decades.

During this retirement party at Cutchogue for Sgt. Steven Zuhoski, the city has reportedly received numerous complaints that the police department is not practicing social distancing. This happened at a time when gatherings of more than 10 people were banned due to COVID-19.

Chief Flatley has come under fire for the department’s handling of these complaints, and the city has hired an independent investigator to look into their response. The investigation sent shockwaves through the community, with many worrying about a lack of transparency.

“This report was given to our elected officials about a month ago and we still don’t know what’s in it,” said Jordan Silbert of East Marion. “They told us it was disturbing, but as someone who lives in the community, I would like to know what happened.”

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, officials hired a hearings officer to gather information on the five city employees. The Board will make a decision on any disciplinary action based on the Hearing Officer’s report.

It is unclear when the officer is expected to present this report to council members.

Supervisor Russell said the council wanted to act on the matter as quickly as possible, but that has not been the case for some Southold residents.

“I’m raising these two great kids and want them to grow up in a community where the government is transparent,” Silbert said. “We have a set of rules and everyone plays by that set of rules.”

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