Was it all Based on a False Police Report???
FREELANCE INVESTIGATIONS' EXCLUSIVE
On Monday, February 24, 2014, an Assistant Elections Clerk, working at the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Cheryl Pallotta, filed a formal complaint and police report against another Board of Elections employee, Patricia Montanino. Ms. Pallotta alleges Ms. Montanino violently struck her, knocked a potato chip out of her mouth, told her to leave it for the "rats"-- indicating other Board employees with the rat comment-- and then walked away laughing.
Ms. Montanino denies she ever hit Ms. Pallotta and has another entirely different version of events. Luckily for her, she audio-taped the entire incident.
There was also another employee who stated she was a witness to the alleged incident, Christine Tomasino, who agrees with Ms. Pallotta's statements and signed the formal complaint as a witness.
She said she saw Ms. Montanino hit Ms. Pallotta, knocking the chip out of her mouth and telling her to "leave it for the rats" indicating her and other employees by the remark. Then Ms. Montanino continued laughing at Cheryl, she said she saw, as Ms. Montanino walked away immediately.
"THE POTATO CHIP INCIDENT"
According to the Suffolk County "Workplace Violence Notice Form" filled out at the Board of Elections by Ms. Pallotta on Tuesday, February 25, she wrote she had filed a formal Police report the day before (Complaint # 14-127504). This is Ms. Pallotta's exact version of what happened from the complaint form to the Board of Elections.
On Monday, February 24, 2014 at approximately 1:30 pm, I was sitting at my desk, eating potato chips while working, when Pat Montanino walked into my work space and struck me in the chin, mouth and nose with one upward swing of her hand, knocking the potato chip out of my mouth and onto the floor.
After hitting me, Pat Montanino turned and walked away laughing. As I went to pick the chip off the floor, Pat Montanino turned toward me and menacingly approached me saying in a threatening tone twice, "Don't pick up the chip--leave it for the rats.", motioning her hand to reference the people who work at the Board of Elections. As Pat Montanino approached me as I was down picking up the chip, I was fearful that she was going to hit me again or kick me. Pat Montanino again walked away laughing.
After throwing out the chip, I sat at my desk for a while in shock, just being violently, physically attacked without any provocation at my workplace. Pat Montanino's aggressive and violent behavior against me in this incident is absolutely unacceptable and squarely against Standard Operating Procedure A-22 Workplace Violence Prevention Program and Incident Reporting Procedure, with specific Reference to 6, Statement of Policy, a Workplace Violence Prevention. (From the complaint written and signed by Cheryl Pallotta) (Boldface and underlined words were boldfaced and underlined in the complaint)One of the signatures at the end of Ms. Pallotta's statement was that of Jeannie O'Rourke, the Human Resources Coordinator for the Democratic side of the Board of Elections. Ms. O'Rourke is also a member of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee. Ms. Montanino said she declined giving a statement to Ms. O'Rourke, when requested of her at the Board that Wednesday, referring Ms. O'Rourke to her attorney instead.
Ms. Pallota has only been employed at the Board of Elections for three months and her husband, Gerard (Gerry) Pallotta, is currently the Chairman of the Islip Democratic Committee. Ms. Montanino is a Republican, by the way.
Ms. Montanino says she never hit Ms. Pallotta, but just put her finger on her shoulder then up to her chin as she often does kidding around with other employees...they look down and she touches their chin... with her finger--a harmless and non-violent, albeit juvenile gesture, she readily admits giggling. After the chip fell and Ms. Pallotta picked it up Ms. Montanino says they had a pleasant conversation for a minute or so about Cheryl Pallotta's recent family loss of her father around Valentine's Day.
After going to the police to file a complaint on Monday, February 24, the next day, Tuesday, Ms. Pallotta filed the complaint with the Board of Elections.
When Pat Montanino went to work the next day, Tuesday, February 25th, according to her, she was told by Eileen Knoble, the Democratic Supervisor, that Cheryl Pallotta would be scanning that day and not her.
According to Ms. Montanino, Ms. Knoble told her that she was sitting in a "Democratic Chair". Ms. Montanino replied telling Ms. Knoble, she was just doing what the front office told her to do. That is when she said Ms. Knoble's tone changed and got nasty and she said "And I’m telling you that’s Crystal's chair and Cheryl can scan." Ms. Montanino said she capitulated and said she would have to check with the Republican supervisor who had given her the scanning job to finish.
Ms. Montanino said Ms. Knoble then told her, "Talk to the front office, Cheryl can scan also."
She said she told Ms. Knoble "Ok, no problem." as she gathered her belongings to go to the front office to see what she should do. Ms. Knoble then told her "You weren’t told you are the permanent replacement for scanning." Ms. Montanino said she responded, "No, no, your right...hostile very hostile in here." she said as she left and went to the front office.
At the front office, she told Wayne Rogers, the Republican Commissioner, she thought it best that she should just go home right then, because the Republican Supervisor who was usually also in the room, was out that day and because of Ms. Knoble's tone of voice she felt it best to leave. Ms. Montanino went home late in the morning that day. By 1 pm on Tuesday the Board of Elections was calling Ms. Montanino at her home and telling her there had been a police report filed by Ms. Pallotta against her the day before for harassment during the alleged "potato chip incident".
On Thursday and Friday Ms. Montanino went back to work and she was told she would be scanning both days, because they needed to get the documents scanned and finished. Ms. Montanino said she got the silent treatment from the whole office both days, except for her immediate supervisor and two Republican co-workers.
On Thursday, February 27th, unbeknownst to Ms. Montanino at the time, Ms. Pallotta went to court and got an order of protection against Ms. Montanino based on the alleged "Potato Chip Incident". Agreeing it was just to prevent Ms. Montanino from going to her home, contacting or following her, Ms. Pallotta told the judge in Court that day she would have no problem with Ms. Montanino working at the Board while she was there, so the Judge issued the order of protection and assigned a court date for late March.
Curiously, though at that time, Ms. Montanino was not informed in any way and was totally unaware that the order of protection had been acquired against her. At the the top of the original order of protection it has two boxes checked. One would indicate Ms. Montanino was released on her own recognizance, the other checked box indicated she was released on bail. The problem here is, she was never in custody, never under arrest and had not even been called on the phone about the order of protection at that point. So the boxes indicating she had been in some kind of custody and either released on bail or in her own recognizance at that time, were totally inappropriate and inaccurate giving anyone who might read those papers, the appearance that she HAD BEEN arrested.
Editor's Note: This also may have been why the Police may not have felt they had a choice but to take Ms. Montanino in to the precinct. If they looked at the original order of protection, with those boxes inappropriately checked, they might have been led to think she had been arrested prior to this, when she had not. The Police insisted they had to follow the paperwork by the letter, according to Ms. Montanino.
Ms. Montanino was not served with papers relating to the order of protection until late the next night, Friday, February 28, 2014. She did not return to work on Monday, instead she went to speak with her attorney and the next day, Tuesday of last week, they met at Court.
EVENTS of The WEEK FOLLOWING the ALLEGED "POTATO CHIP INCIDENT"
On Tuesday of last week, Ms. Montanino and her attorney went to Court to make sure it was alright for her to go back to work at the Board, with the order of protection hanging over her head from the previous Friday evening. They also went to hand over an audio-tape of the complete alleged "potato chip incident". The Judge said Ms. Pallotta had assured her when she approved the original order of protection, that work would accommodate them both and there should be no problem with Ms. Montanino returning to her job at the Board. (Ms. Montanino was not in Court the day the order of protection was gotten and again had no knowledge of Ms. Pallotta's obtaining the order of protection against her, until Friday, February 28th.)
The very next day on Wednesday, March 5th, was the first day Ms. Montanino was back at work. Her desk was on the opposite side and end of the room from Ms. Pallotta and she says she never approached Ms. Pallotta, nor had she spoken to her at all that day. At around 9:30 am Ms. Montanino had been told to wait in the GOP's Commissioner's Office while they made a call to the attorneys for the Board of Elections in her presence. They wanted to make sure it was alright for her to be there because they had gotten a copy of the order of protection somehow. The upshot of the call was that there should be no problem with the two employees; Ms. Montanino and Ms. Pallotta, working at the same time in the building, she was told, so Ms. Montanino went to work. The County Attorney's Office confirmed in a recent call, that the Board of Elections did request an opinion from their office that day, regarding the order of protection and the Board was told there should not have been any problem with Ms. Montanino being back at the Board to work.
WHAT WAS THE EMERGENCY 911 CALL ALL ABOUT?
That same day, after working without incident for over two hours, around 11 am on Wednesday, March 5th, Ms. Pallotta suddenly dialed 911, telling the operator that Ms. Montanino had violated the order of protection and three police cars arrived at the Board of Elections within minutes. Ms. Montanino was told by Police to remove all her jewelry and things she didn't want taken from her at the precinct, in anticipation of her arrest. She was told by an officer to put those items in her car and lock it. Ms. Montanino did as she was told, removing her jewelry in the parking lot (losing a diamond stud earring in the process, she would later learn) and she was put into a police car and brought to the precinct, publicly humiliated in front of all her co-workers.
The Republican Commissioner, Wayne Rogers told her at the time, "Don't worry, we're trying to work this out." As she was led out of the workplace, by the Police, supposedly in anticipation of arrest.
Although Ms. Pallotta said she agreed to allow Ms. Montanino to work at the Board of Elections without a problem, when she first got the order of protection, that information was never written into the actual order, so the police claimed they had no choice, but to take Ms. Montanino in, based on the 911 call from Cheryl Pallotta. They took her to the station, allegedly to arrest her. They never did. When she got to the precinct, they sat her in their office and after apologizing to her for the inconvenience, they eventually just let her go when her husband arrived. She was held at the precinct for about an hour and a half.
Ms. Montanino went back to court the same day with her attorney, immediately after being released by the Police. The Judge in the case expressed dismay at the turn of events, because she felt she had been misled by Ms. Pallotta who told her being at the workplace with Ms. Montanino would not be an issue, when the judge agreed to issue the order of protection in the first place. Then the Judge moved up a late March scheduled court date for Ms. Montanino to March 14th, in order for Ms. Montanino to answer the original harassment charges made against her, based on the alleged "Potato Chip Incident".
FOR THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY...
Now we fast forward to what really happened on Monday, February 24, 2014 with the aid of an audio-tape of the entire incident captured luckily by Ms. Montanino.
Ms. Montanino says she was talking to Ms. Pallotta about the recent loss of her father, after she had dropped the chip...and that she told her to leave it for the little critters (mice) and that she and Cheryl continued to have a very congenial conversation with each other even after the chip fell, until her phone rang and she ended the conversation with Ms. Pallotta, when she answered it.
There was no violence...no shock...and no reference to rats at all. She also said Ms. Tomasino who claimed to witness all of the alleged violence left the room, while she was having the taped conversation with Ms. Pallotta.
LET'S GO TO THE AUDIO-TAPE...
The following is a transcript of the audio-tape of the entire incident, submitted to the Court and provided exclusively to Freelance Investigations:
Feb 24, 2014 Monday Pat M is Patricia Montanino
Cheryl P is Cheryl Pallotta
Approx 12:50 pm
I, Patricia Montanino ate lunch in the break room at 700 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank, known as The Board of Elections, with Vincent Laquori. When I was done, I went to the bathroom, then washed my hands and proceeded to the processing room to continue scanning documents from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
As I approached the room, at the door was a fellow worker Christine Tomasino.
From the tape:
Pat M : Excuse me (said to Christine Tomasino, as she was standing at the doorway talking to Cheryl)
Pat M: (To Cheryl Pallotta) I am sorry for your loss.
(Cheryl was sitting at her desk right next to the door coming in from the hallway)
Comment describing the action by Pat Montanino, this comment is not on the tape:
I then pointed to her shoulder and she looked down, I moved my FINGER to her chin and she dramatically dropped the potato chip she was eating.
Back to the tape comments:
Cheryl P: I was enjoying it.
Pat M: You can’t eat that one-- it’s for the mouse.
(Pat Montanino giggles)
Cheryl P: I’m gonna pick it up.
Pat M: (to Christine and Cheryl) That was for the little critter that comes.
Comment by Pat Montanino describing the action...this comment is not on the tape:
(At this point then Christine left the room and Cheryl leaned down and picked up the chip that fell.)
Back to comments from the tape: (Talking about the recent loss of Cheryl's father)
Pat M: Is everybody back to ahh...
Cheryl P: My house?
Pat M: Yeah.
Cheryl P: No, not really.
Pat M: It took us-- it took my mother a year.
Cheryl P: Yeah, not really... still very fresh.
Pat M: Yeah.
Cheryl P: Because he passed on Valentine’s Day nite and he was supposed to come home with Hospice on Saturday, ahh it was his birthday on Sunday, and…
Pat M: So they kinda get...
Cheryl P: Yeah.
Pat M: Come home with hospice... cause the woman across the street did.
Cheryl P: Yeah.
Pat M: Right, he lasted a week, a week with hospice, um...
Cheryl P: We tried to get him home for about a month with hospice, it just so happened that we were able to get that Saturday.
Pat M: Oh, oh, oh.
Cheryl P: Yeah, we had everything delivered, and, um Thursday, Friday...
(In the back ground supervisor Pat C. can be heard talking) Thursday he was fine, I was talking to him, Friday, he just….
Pat M: It’s always the calm before the storm.
(Pat Montanino's cell phone began ringing)
Cheryl P: (Still talking with Pat Montanino) It was his birthday Sunday--- it will take a long time…
On tape then Pat Montanino's cell phone is ringing...and the conversation with Cheryl ends...
Entire conversation 1:45 seconds
Pat Montanino adds "My cell phone ringing, I left the room to answer it. It was my son calling about his purchase of eye glasses.". (statement not on tape)
WAS THIS RETALIATION FOR HER POLITICAL ACTIVISM IN ISLIP TOWN?
It would appear from this audio-tape that Ms. Pallotta's version of events are not true. It would also appear that the witnesses testimony, of Christine Tomasino, is also not true. The fact that it matches exactly the statement of Ms. Pallotta, that would appear to be false, raises serious questions of collusion and or conspiracy.
So based on a false statement to Police, the Court and the Board of Elections, Ms. Pallotta had Ms. Montanino taken out of the Board of Elections in a Police car, humiliated her in front of the entire Board of Elections and forced her to hire an attorney to defend herself. Ms. Montanino was placed in another room when she went back to work at the Board of Elections, "For her protection and for the protection of the Board.", the Republican Commissioner told her that day, Ms. Montanino said.
Asked why Ms. Pallotta would do this to her, Ms. Montanino could not say for sure, because they had never had any bad words or hard feelings between them prior to this. She said Ms. Pallotta's husband, Gerry Pallotta, may have held a grudge against her when she spoke out on her own political web page against him, as the Democratic Chairman in Islip. This was in 2011, when Gerald Pallotta was appointed by Mr. Nolan as the head of the Committee attempting to get a $71 million dollar bond passed in the Town, when Phil Nolan was the Democratic Town Supervisor. Ms. Montanino said she continuously questioned where the money was going and stated in her web page that there were few details about what work would be done and who would get the contract money and so she fought against it. Eventually, the bond issue was dropped, without the press making the same hoopla they made when the bond was proposed. In fact, no later press reports indicated the bond issue had ever been abandoned.
Ms. Montanino said she believes, "This was simply retaliation for me being a watchdog and advocate for the taxpayers of Islip Town." Ms. Montanino said she also believes the fact that she works a full day at the Board scanning over 2,000 documents with no stress or special effort, while her Board of Election counterparts doing the same job scanned about 20 documents in the same amount of time. This is the reason they want her out of the Board.
"We were over two and a half years behind in the scanning of voter's information. That meant some of these documents were unavailable during the last election cycle. That is unacceptable and I like to work steadily and it is making everyone angry, because they say I am making them look bad." Ms. Montanino said in a recent interview.
On Tuesday, February 25th the day after the alleged "potato chip incident", Ms. Montanino and the members of the Board simultaneously became aware that Ms. Pallotta had filed the police report around 1 PM when Ms. Pallotta submitted the report to the Board and they immediately informed Ms. Montanino at her home, she said.
That morning, according to Ms. Montanino, Eileen Knoble, a cousin of Suffolk County Democratic leader Richie Schaffer, who works at the Board of Elections, had become very hostile toward Ms. Montanino in the morning, because she had wanted Ms. Pallotta to scan documents that day--and not her. Eileen Knoble is Ms. Pallotta's direct supervisor. Ms. Montanino said she was only doing what her own supervisor had told her to do as the scanning process was already over two and a half years behind.
Ms. Montanino said she has raised another ongoing issue with some Board employees who were making copies of illegible voter signatures. Ms. Montanino said the signatures were so light they couldn't be read properly, so she made the images darker by adjusting the scanner--a simple procedure. This also upset the Democratic workers in the room, she noted, but she could not say why this should have bothered them so much.
"If I did not have the presence of mind to document the incident, who knows how many more people would have come forward to lie about the alleged incident against me? I only protected myself because I felt threatened by the way I had been spoken to and treated by the Democratic Supervisor at the Board of Elections for quite some time." Ms. Montanino said.
This is not the first time false accusations have been leveled against the Town activist...those charges were dismissed without merit and these are expected to be dismissed as well, based on the evidence submitted to the court, Ms. Montanino said.
Editor's note: If it is proved true (as it would appear to be when listening to the audio-tape of a benign and seemingly caring conversation between the two)-- that Ms. Pallotta has filed a false police report and conspired with another employee to lie and speak against Ms. Montanino, then she should be charged with filing a false police report, filing a false complaint and filing a false instrument to the court at the very least.
Retaliation against people who have the courage to speak out against voter fraud and waste of taxpayer dollars should be met with harsh penalties against the perpetrators.
A call and message left at the home of the Pallotta family for comment, was not answered at time of publication. After two calls to the Board of Elections for comment, the Republican Commissioner, Wayne Roger's Office diverted Freelance Investigations to the Suffolk County Attorney's Office, for any comment regarding the situation. Gail Lolif, the Suffolk County Attorney, assigned to the case said neither the County Attorney's Office, nor anyone at The Suffolk County Board of Elections would be able to comment on what is an open and ongoing investigation. Any future comments by any of the parties involved would be welcomed and added to this article immediately.