Sea Cliff, NY – Anti-Semitic Lawsuit Dismissed, Plaintiff to Reimburse Defendants

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    Sea Cliff, NY – More than a year after losing a federal harassment lawsuit against the Village of Sea Cliff and several officials, the owner of a multimillion-dollar gourmet popcorn company was ordered to reimburse them more than $900,000 in attorney’s fees.

    Robert Ehrlich, who operates the company that produces Pirate’s Booty, had accused village officials of harassing him over his daytime coffee bar and his critically acclaimed sushi restaurant because he is Jewish.

    In a decision issued by U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler said he was awarding the attorney’s fees because the claims against the defendants were “groundless.”

    “Indeed, there was no evidence whatsoever of unlawful or discriminatory conduct by these defendants,” Wexler wrote.

    Village officials have denied that they are anti-Semitic.

    Wexler awarded the village’s building inspector, David DeRienzis, $52,914.69; the village’s board of trustees, zoning board of appeals and planning board $93,640.64; the village’s attorney, Richard Siegel, $176,562.57; and 16 current or former officials $585,520.60.

    “The village is pleased that some portion of its burden is going to be mitigated,” said Mark Mulholland, a Uniondale-based attorney who represented most of the defendants. But “it’s no great consolation for all the trouble the village was put through.”

    Ehrlich also filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court against the same people seeking a permanent and unconditional certificate of occupancy for his coffee bar and restaurant, located in the historic center of the village.

    The village, meanwhile, sought a preliminary injunction prohibiting him from running the restaurant, saying that he only had a permit to operate a coffee bar.

    The Supreme Court Justice Joseph Spinola ordered that the business be closed.


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