Appellate Division, Brooklyn courthouse. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

County legislative candidate Greg Williams of Cutchogue is appealing the May 3 trial court decision invalidating his party designating petitions.

His appeal was filed in the Appellate Division in Brooklyn on Saturday.

Catherine Stark of Riverhead, the Suffolk County Republican Committee’s pick for the party designation, brought the action to invalidate Williams’ petitions last month, alleging that Williams’ petitions were “permeated with fraud.”

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo ruled in favor of Stark, holding that signatures on his petition were not properly witnessed. The court held that a witness who signed the petition falsely stated that four of the people who signed the document did so in her presence.

The witness was the candidate’s wife, Karen Williams. Three of the four people whose signatures were challenged testified that Karen Williams was nearby when Greg Williams obtained their signatures, but not in a position to actually witness the signing. The fourth individual testified that he did not recognize Karen Williams as a person present when he signed the petition.

The court ruled that the candidate was “inextricably intertwined in the petitioning process,” and was chargeable with knowledge of the fraudulent manner in which certain signatures were procured.

“The Court is mindful that the omission in all probability was caused by inexperience in the process,” the judge wrote. “Nonetheless, the Court is duty-bound to follow the law.” If upheld on appeal, Williams will be disqualified from appearing on the ballot in the June party primary, effectively securing the Republican nomination for Stark.

Williams’ attorney argues in the appeal that no fraud was committed, that Stark’s petition should have been dismissed for failing to plead fraud with specificity and that her petition was not properly served on Williams so the trial court lacked jurisdiction.

Stark’s attorneys filed a reply brief in the Appellate Division on Sunday, disputing Williams’ claims and asking that the trial court’s decision be affirmed.

Stark and Williams are seeking election to the First District County Legislature seat being vacated by Al Krupski, who is stepping aside to run for Southold Town supervisor. The Republican nominee will face Democrat Catherine Kent in the November general election.

In a statement yesterday, Williams said Stark and the Republican Party leadership “resorted to dirty tricks and lies” to keep him off the ballot.

“They are correctly concerned that, in an open and fair election, my opponent and her record are no match for my record of service, my standing in the community, and my reputation for honesty and fair dealing,” Williams said.

He said the allegations of fraud are without merit and predicted victory in the appellate court as well as in the June 22 primary.

Stark said today she didn’t want to comment on the pending lawsuit.

“I would defer to the Republican Party chair since it was the Republican Party who exercised this tool to ensure the voters of the First District have free, fair and transparent elections,” she said. “I’m focused on winning the First District seat for the people of the community I have worked shoulder to shoulder with over these last 10 years that resulted in positive initiatives on the environment, farming, affordability, and public safety. I’m proud to be part of the Ed Romaine Team for the North Fork.”

Stark has never held elective office but has worked as a legislative aide to Krupski since 2013 and prior to that as a legislative aide to then-Legislator Jay Schneiderman. She held other jobs in county government, including in the office of the clerk of the legislature, the office of real property tax services and the office of former County Executive Bob Gaffney.

Williams is the owner of Country Time Cycle in Mattituck and after serving one term as a Southold Town trustee, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Southold Town Board in 2021.

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