Dawn Thomas File photo

Former Riverhead town attorney Dawn Thomas will be returning to Riverhead Town Hall as a deputy town attorney Sept. 1.

Thomas, who held the town attorney post for a decade until she resigned in January 2011 to take a position as principal law clerk for State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gazillo. She was replaced in 2011 by Robert Kozakiewicz, a former town supervisor who had served as town attorney in 1996-1997.

“I am very much looking forward to working with Bob and the rest of the staff in the town attorney’s office,” Thomas said in an interview.

Thomas fills a slot left vacant by the resignation of deputy town attorney William Duffy, who left Riverhead town government last March when he was appointed town attorney for the Town of Southold.

Kozakiewicz said in an interview he would have Thomas focus on code enforcement proceedings in Riverhead Justice Court, something Duffy spent a large part of his time handling. Since Duffy left, it’s been hard to keep up with that and litigation in Supreme Court, too, Kozakiewicz said. With the town hiring additional staff to step up code enforcement efforts, additional resources and efforts are needed to prosecute the enforcement actions in justice court.

“If you can’t prosecute them, there’s not much point in issuing notices of violation,” Kozakiewicz said.

The town attorney staff, currently consisting of three lawyers, a paralegal and a legal secretary, is responsible for developing and drafting legislation, prosecuting civil and criminal actions on behalf of the town, advising the town board on all legal matters that affect the interests of the town, including legislation and regulations adopted by federal, state and county governments, contracts, bids, freedom of information law requests and much more. The office also oversees the employment and performance of all outside counsel hired by the town as well as the town’s personnel and code enforcement officers.

“No doubt it’s a very busy law department,” said Supervisor Sean Walter, who served as a deputy town attorney under Thomas. “We’re fortunate to be able to entice Dawn Thomas back to Riverhead Town,” he said.

Walter said last year the town would leave Duffy’s position vacant “for a while” for fiscal reasons. Thomas will be paid a slightly hire salary than the $98,548 drawn by Duffy, according to a resolution unanimously adopted by the Town Board at its regular meeting Tuesday, which sets her salary at $100,000, plus benefits.

Thomas is a Jamesport resident. She currently serves on the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency board of directors, a volunteer post.

 

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.