While Suffern Turns Over Layne Files to Zugibe, Wesley Hills Stands by Their Man

Village won’t suspend inspector John Layne

BY DYLAN SKRILOFF

According to Mayor David Goldsmith of Wesley Hills, the principle “innocent until proven guilty” outweighs concerns over the ethical practices of Building Inspector John Layne brought to the fore by Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe.

Layne retains his position as building inspector in the village with the support of the board, Goldsmith said. Not so in Ramapo, where Layne has been placed on unpaid suspension pending his prosecution on felony charges of corruption.

Layne, a former mayor of Airmont, also is a former building inspector of the Village of Suffern. According to Suffern Mayor Dagan LaCorte, the village reviewed all files pertaining to Layne’s electrical inspections while employed with the village and found four instances in which a company that Layne had an interest in did work in the village.

LaCorte said, “We immediately referred the matter to the DA’s Office. These four matters were the only instances in which Mr. Layne’s work had reason to be called into question.”

The mayor said it is against ethical guidelines for an inspector to inspect work from a company he has an ownership stake in.

Goldsmith said his village also did a review but claims Wesley Hills found nothing suspicious or inappropriate.

Layne has been arrested and accused on felony charges of using his position while working as building inspector of Sloatsburg, from 2002 to 2009, to steer customers to his private companies. He is also accused of doing private electrical work in Sloatsburg in violation of the village’s ethics code and then covering it up in the village records.

He operated through two electrical contracting companies during that time, Airmont Electic and Advanced Electrical Construction. As building inspector, Layne was not allowed to work in the village on projects that then the Building Department would be expected to inspect.

Layne was released from Suffern a year ago, when he was hired by Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence to be deputy superintendent of highways.

Mayor LaCorte explained that, “Mr. Layne was always looked at as a temporary solution, and when able to find candidate who was a better fit combined with Mr. Layne’s new position as deputy superintendent of highways of Ramapo, we moved on.”

The current building inspector of Suffern is Joe Jacaruso, a former longtime inspector in Spring Valley, who is retired except for his job with Suffern.

In 2010 Suffern also ridded itself of code enforcer John Loniewski who had been caught using his influence for personal gain. Loniewski was released without retaining civil servant benefits.

Goldsmith said the village’s tune will change if Layne is convicted of a “major charge.” He would not say what constitutes “major.”

“I would have to discuss it with board and attorney,” Goldsmith said. “I have no idea what charges might stick, if any at all.”

He continued, “We’ve been extremely happy with his work and have received nothing but pleasant reports from workers.”