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Former Greenport man found guilty of harassing village building inspector

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06/09/2017 2:25 PM |

A former Greenport man accused of threatening the village building inspector at Village Hall in 2013 was found guilty of a harassment charge following his trial Thursday in Riverhead Town Justice Court.

Kenneth MacAlpin, 53, who now lives in Riverhead, appeared before Judge Allen Smith and was found guilty of second-degree harassment stemming from a Nov. 7, 2013 incident in which village building inspector Eileen Wingate reported he threatened her at the front desk.

Ms. Wingate, who has worked in the village for 14 years, testified she was at the Xerox machine making copies when she heard her name during a “minor ruckus.”

She told the judge Mr. MacAlpin made eye contact with her after she looked to see what was going on and heard him say of her: “She’s dead — this time she’s gone too far.”

Ms. Wingate, who fought back tears from the witness stand, said she called 911 that same day and his threat made her feel “sad, nervous, anxious and disturbed.”

Ms. Wingate testified that Mr. MacAlpin had harassed her in the past and she had previously been granted an order of protection from him. She was the lone witness called by prosecutor Robert Archer.

Mr. MacAlpin’s legal aid attorney Sean Cambridge had made a motion to dismiss the case based on Ms. Wingate’s use of the words “just another day at the office” in her testimony. He said those words don’t describe harassment. Ms. Wingate also waited 13 days to file the complaint, according to Mr. Cambridge. Judge Smith ultimately denied the motion.

The defense then called Mr. MacAlpin’s partner, Peggy Richards. She testified they had stopped at Village Hall on their way to the IGA supermarket that day because Mr. MacAlpin wanted to check on a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request he had filed. She couldn’t recall which FOIL request he was seeking that day, adding “we did that quite a bit.”

Ms. Richards described Ms. Wingate as acting “adversely” toward them as they sought public information on a building next door to their former home on Kaplan Avenue. Ms. Richards and Mr. MacAlpin’s home later burned down in a February 2015 fire.

After Ms. Richards testified that she believed the building next door was “non-conforming,” Judge Smith briefly stopped her testimony as he found Mr. MacAlpin “smirking and laughing.”

“Please, let me in on the joke,” the judge said. After Mr. MacAlpin apologized, Ms. Richards continued with her testimony and said Ms. Wingate had also issued her a building summons, though she couldn’t recall when she received it.

Mr. MacAlpin, who was holding a cane during the trial, was the final witness called and he denied Ms. Wingate’s allegations.

“I never even laid eyes on her that day,” he said.

Mr. MacAlpin testified that he had been talking to two women at the front desk about his FOIL request and told them he’s “suing” after they didn’t provide him with the information he was seeking. He also noted that the village’s building department had been charged with failing to maintain complete records.

The Village Board discussed several building department complaints, including allegations of inconsistent inspections and incomplete files, during its regular meeting in September 2015. At the time, Mayor George Hubbard Jr. described the findings as “the most damaging report I’ve seen and includes stuff I didn’t even know about.”

During Mr. Cambridge’s questioning at Thursday’s trial, he asked Mr. MacAlpin if he was “upset” when he wasn’t granted his FOIL request.

“Mildly annoyed,” Mr. MacAlpin responded. “The records are atrocious.”

He said he left Village Hall and wasn’t contacted by police about Ms. Wingate’s complaint until after Thanksgiving.

During Mr. Archer’s cross examination, Mr. MacAlpin confirmed he had pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal contempt in October 2009 after violating an order of protection. Mr. MacAlpin also confirmed he pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated harassment in March 2012. Those cases didn’t involve Ms. Wingate.

Immediately after closing arguments, Judge Smith described the trial as a “credibility case” between Ms. Wingate and Mr. MacAplin.

Due to his criminal history, the judge said he believes Mr. MacAlpin is “more likely to lie” and found him guilty of second-degree harassment. Judge Smith also fined him $250 and granted a two-year order of protection for Ms. Wingate.

Village attorney Joe Prokop also has two pending cases against Mr. MacAlpin in Riverhead Town Justice Court, records show.

Mr. MacAplin was charged with disorderly conduct following two Village Board meetings in June 2014, according to the complaint.

During the June 18, 2014 meeting, Mr. MacAlpin was “shouting, cursing and being disruptive,” the complaint states.

Southold Town police were called to the June 23, 2014 meeting, according to a previous Suffolk Times article.

That incident started after Mr. MacAplin approached the podium to address the Village Board on a controversial wetlands permit application submitted by a local oyster farmer. Mr. MacAplin’s comments quickly turned into a verbal attack on the board and village employees. He also used profanity and made threatening gestures.

After Mr. MacAlpin began slamming on the podium and shouting curse words, the Village Board stopped the meeting and a village employee called police.

According to Mr. Prokop’s complaint, Mr. MacAplin also made “derogatory racial slurs that caused public alarm to the board and audience.”

Mr. Prokop’s case was adjourned until December for contemplation of dismissal and Judge Smith granted him an order of protection for that six-month period.

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File photo: Kenneth MacAlpin, center, became irate during the June 23, 2014 Village Board meeting. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

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