Press-Republican

Local News

June 30, 2013

Housing Authority taking action against director

Seeks nearly $600,000 from Lori Cantwell

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh Housing Authority is taking legal action against its former director, seeking nearly $600,000.

The Housing Authority filed a summons with notice in State Supreme Court in Clinton County against Lori A. Cantwell.

The action seeks damages for “breach of fiduciary duty; rescission (the right to have a contract set aside if it has been entered into mistakenly); fraud and deceit; breach of contract and unjust enrichment.”

The principle amount of the damage claim is $272,468, plus $300,000 in punitive damages, plus interest, with interest fees continuing to accrue.

NO REASON GIVEN

Cantwell, 48, was removed from her duties on May 3 by the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners are not talking about the case, and Cantwell and her attorney, William James, also said they cannot discuss details.

She did tell the Press-Republican that she asked for stated reasons for her dismissal, but the commissioners have not provided any.

SALARY RAISED

Cantwell was named executive director on Oct. 1, 2011, replacing Pat Lucia, who retired after serving as executive director for 23 years.

At the time of her hiring, Cantwell’s salary was $127,173, which included compensation as executive director and as the Housing Authority attorney. Cantwell had served as the authority’s attorney for 14 years before becoming executive director.

Her salary was raised to $159,139 on March 1, 2012, according to information obtained by the Press-Republican from the Housing Authority through the Freedom of Information Law.

A form recording the pay increase was filed in the Clinton County Personnel Department in November 2012, signed by Clayton Morris as the vice chairman of Board of Commissioners. 

Cantwell’s salary was then raised another $12,731 for an 8-percent longevity increase, and retroactively applied, for a total salary of $171,870, according to additional records obtained by the P-R.

Cantwell said she received only half of that 8-percent longevity increase, because half is given out in January and the other half in June. She also said $10,000 was taken off her salary for health-insurance payments.  

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