According to the Times Union:
Attorneys for Rensselaer County agreed to settle a federal discrimination lawsuit against former sheriff Jack Mahar — just two days after a judge issued a ruling that would have allowed a jury to hear a racist remark allegedly uttered by Mahar's successor, Patrick Russo.
county's lawyers, John W. Bailey and Crystal Peck, agreed to the settlement in a phone conference Friday with A.J. Bosman, the attorney for Lt. James Karam, a longtime internal affairs officer whose civil case against the county was set to go to trial Tuesday in U.S. District Court before Judge .
Karam's claim is that he suffered ridicule based on his Lebanese heritage.
More from the article:
The settlement was reached two days after D'Agostino issued a May 25 ruling that, among other things, would have allowed jurors to hear evidence that Russo, while undersheriff, once told Karam, who is of Lebanese ancestry, that he "should shave his goatee or he would be put back on the terrorist watch list."
Now, we don't know if Sheriff Russo is a bigot. Who knows the heart of a man? We do know that he said the best thing ever about the statement:
A transcript of a March 16, 2015 deposition of Russo, listed in court papers, showed that Russo did not deny making the "watch list" comment — but denied having any issues with Karam over his ethnicity.
"I wouldn't be derogatory to him because he's Lebanese because my wife's family is Lebanese," Russo told Bosman. "The best man in my wedding was Lebanese. I have probably as many Lebanese friends as Jim Karam has. So, therefore, I wouldn't be derogatory because of his heritage toward Jimmy."
"So the 'watch list' reference was for what reason?" Karam's attorney pressed.
"Just to maybe lighten the mood up," Russo replied, noting that he had known Karam since he was a child.
Russo actually pulled out the "Some of my best friends are...." line. Kind of reminds you of the guy who starts a conversation: "Hey, I ain't got nothing against the Jews but...". Given Russo's street cred amongst the regions Lebanese-American community, maybe Russo could have admitted he's just shitty at lightening-up the mood. Or, he could have said, "I'm not a bigot, I'm just kind of a dick."
This settlement comes on the heels of a $3,000,000 award given to former corrections officer Lora Seabury.
In 2013, an administrative law judge with the state Division of Human Rights determined Seabury was harassed by a clique of jail officers known as the "Boys Club" and that top sheriff's officials at the jail engaged in "deliberate inaction" in dealing with the harassment of Seabury.
That award was later bumped up to $3,000,000.
Was Russo considered a top sheriff's official at that time? No idea but it makes you wonder about the man we elected.