Orange County, NY - Hispanic Woodbury Police Chief Calls Suspension Political Retribution, Says Town Supervisor Tolerates Racism
Orange County, NY - A candidate for the Rockland County sheriff’s office who was temporarily suspended from his job as Woodbury chief of police has charged that his suspension was politically motivated and comes in response to his refusal to use a particular vendor suggested by the town’s supervisor.
Audio released to the media seemingly corroborates those claims which include charges that the vendor was known to publicly disparage the Hispanic police chief by making racial slurs.
Richard Vasquez was temporarily removed Monday, from his position in the Orange County town of Woodbury for 30 days, an action that comes just two weeks before Election Day, where Vasquez is slated to face off against Democratic incumbent Sheriff James Falco in a heated contest taking place in adjacent Rockland County. To date, the Town of Woodbury has declined to give a reason for Vasquez’s suspension.
In a statement released to the media today, Vasquez described the action as “bogus” and an “act of retribution.”
According to Vasquez, he was suspended by Woodbury Supervisor Ralph Caruso for his refusal to use McKenzie Motors, located in the Town of Woodbury, because they had performed substandard work in the past on town vehicles. Vasquez also charged that after informing Caruso that the vendor had offered him a bribe in exchange for business and had referred to him by a racial slur, Caruso still insisted that Woodbury vehicles be brought to McKenzie for repairs.
Vasquez also charged that Glen McKenzie of McKenzie Motors had made disparaging comments about him on numerous occasions, describing him as “a spic.” In an audio leaked to the media and published by the Rockland County Times, town clerk Desiree Potvin confirmed those claims during a meeting held between Caruso, Vasquez and Potvin.
“I have had conversations with Mr. McKenzie numerous times,” said Potvin. “He is offensive. He speaks in very awful terms about your police chief.”
“Well I don’t know about that,” countered Caruso.
“He has said it to me so it’s not hearsay,” replied Potvin.
As the conversation continued Vasquez noted, “He goes around town telling everybody, ‘I can’t believe they have a spic running this police department.’”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Potvin confirmed on the audio.
Link to Audio below:
The almost 34 minute audio discusses various subjects and Vasquez can be heard telling Caruso that McKenzie’s work was inferior, potentially putting members of the sheriff’s department at risk, with Caruso responding that the town would continue to patronize all local vendors, including McKenzie Motors.
“I am being forced to give him business?” said Vasquez.
“Yes,” replied Caruso.
“Now, is there a reason though, other than…?” countered Vasquez.
“No, no reason,” interrupted Caruso.
“But there are other people in town, other people in town I could give the business to,” noted Vasquez.
“But I want it equal,” explained Caruso. “You don’t have to give it all to him. I want it equally distributed.”
The timing of his suspension has Vasquez pointing the finger of blame squarely at his opponent in the sheriff’s race.
“It is no secret that Sheriff Falco has told many people over the last weeks that he would be making my life a[sic] difficult and that he was going to go after me at work,” said Vasquez in his statement. “These deplorable actions of racism, corruption and the politics of personal destruction by Supervisor Caruso and Lou Falco should not be tolerated by the people who elected them to serve with honor and dignity. I believe in my heart of hearts that on November 3rd, the people will do the right thing and see through these deplorable acts. Until then, it is a sad day when Rockland has become a place where the honest and honorable man is the one dragged through the mud.”
A spokesperson for the Vasquez campaign told VIN News that despite the suspension, his campaign remains in full swing and that Vasquez will be focusing extra energy on the race in light of recent events.
The Town of Woodbury is located approximately five miles from Kiryas Joel. Vasquez, a former NYPD officer, has 23 years experience in law enforcement and was a recipient of the NYPD’s Combat Cross, the second highest departmental award given for acts of extraordinary heroism.
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