Throwback Thursday – Cuthbertson, Matthews and Ethics
This originally was posted October 12, 2014:
On October 5th, 2014 Newsday ran a story about Huntington Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson not disclosing his business relationship with Gary Melius, owner of Oheka Castle. Cuthbertson voted in favor of a zoning change to allow the development of Condominiums on the Melius property during the same time frame he and Melius were financially profiting off of a commercial foreclosure property in Islandia, NY. Cuthbertson was the Court appointed receiver for the property. Cuthbertson then retained Melius to be property manager. According to Newsday, Melius and Cuthbertson received about $284,000 from the foreclosed commercial property. Cuthbertson did not disclose this relationship on town financial disclosure forms. See the Newsday article here.
Cuthbertson, according to Newsday, asked the Attorney for the Huntington Ethics Board, James Matthews if there was a
conflict of interest. Matthews answered that no such conflict existed. Matthews is currently running for Suffolk County District Court Judge as a Democrat and a has received cross-endorsements from both the Conservative and Independence Parties. Matthews also serves as special counsel to the Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).
In addition to serving as the attorney for the town of Huntington ZBA and the Ethics Board he is also the attorney for the Village of Northport since 2005. From 1997 to 2000 he was a Town of Huntington attorney.
The Huntingtonian reviewed New York State campaign finance forms and found that both Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and Huntington Ethics Board member James Matthews contributed money to each others campaign accounts over the past several months. According to the NYS BOE:
James Matthews contributed to the “Friends of Mark Cuthbertson” on 3/5/2014 for the amount of $750.00 check # 1152.
He also contributed another $300.00 to the “Friends of Mark Cuthbertson” on 3/14/2014 check # 1143.
Councilman Cuthbertson contributed to the “Friends of Jim Matthews” on 4/17/2014 check #1758 for the amount of $500.00.
Mark Cuthbertson asked Huntington Ethics Board Attorney James Matthews if a conflict of interest occurred regarding the Oheka condominium zoning change deal and the fact that Cuthbertson did not disclose his business relationships with Melius. Matthews said that no such conflict occurred. He made a point to say that his opinion as unofficial.
Huntington Ethics Board members are appointed by the Huntington Town Board.