Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Denise Sher ruled on Friday that Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral has to testify before the court on Jan. 27 at a hearing in response to claims the village tampered with evidence in a suit over the village’s streetlights.
Great Neck resident Judy Youngblood is currently suing Bral, the village trustees and the village as a whole over claims that the board misled residents into thinking the LED street lights the village has installed over the past two years would be shielded to prevent the light from disturbing villagers in their homes. Youngblood’s attorney Tamara Harris argues that constitutes a violation of New York Public Buildings Law section 143.2, passed in 2014, which states that any roadway lighting installed by a public government agency above a certain brightness level must be fully shielded.
Youngblood and other Great Neck residents have complained both publicly and to the court that the unshielded street lights are too bright. Youngblood herself said that one light in particular, stationed just across the street from her home on Colgate Road, seriously impares her ability to sleep at night and has hurt both her quality of life and the value of her home.
The defense has argued that the lights are reasonably dimmed after a certain hour to avoid disturbing residents, and submitted property assessment documents showing no noteworthy depreciation in the value of Youngblood’s home since the lights were installed.
Central to the ongoing case, first filed nearly two years ago, are the plaintiff’s claims that the board committed fraud when they allegedly said that the lights would be shielded when installed at a series of board meetings over the summer of 2017. Meeting minutes the defense has submitted to the court make no mention of any such statements. The prosecution has requested audio recordings of the meetings from the village, but the village says they no longer exist. The prosecution claims this inability to produce the recordings stems from the village having intentionally destroyed them.
“There were recordings of the meeting of that misrepresentation, but the village claimed the recordings get deleted after one month,” Harris said. “Long story short, the story kept changing. So the judge wanted a hearing to determine if there was an intentional destruction of evidence.”
The defense has said claims the village destroyed evidence are untrue.
“I exerted no control over [Village Clerk] Joe Gill or anyone else in retention or disposition of village records or the audio recordings that are the subject of this motion,” Bral wrote in an affidavit received by the court on Oct. 31. “I have not directed any person to dispose of the subject audio recordings of village board of trustees meetings. I have not disposed of any of the subject audio recordings.”
The mayor is scheduled to testify before the court, located at 1 Supreme Court Dr. in Mineola, on Monday, Jan. 27 at 9:30 a.m.