Schenectady County

Niskayuna senior center staff scuffle investigated

The Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department is investigating allegations of an altercation this week

The Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department is investigating allegations of an altercation this week at the Niskayuna senior center between a current employee and a former employee.

The former employee, Sue Leonard, alleges the current employee, April Steenburgh, hit her in the face at the center Tuesday while she was there visiting seniors she had worked with for years.

Steenburgh, though, contends it was Leonard who made the incident physical. Steenburgh also questioned the timing of Leonard’s visit, saying she believed it was tied to the upcoming town supervisor election.

The Sheriff’s Department was given the case by Niskayuna police after Leonard said she moved Thursday to press charges against Steenburgh.

No formal charges had been filed as of Friday. Sheriff Dominic Dagostino said the investigation could conclude early next week.

The sheriff was given the case to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest with the town police, something that is common in similar situations, officials said.

Leonard is a former senior programs part-time employee who left the town workforce in June, alleging a hostile work environment.

She is currently awaiting a appeal hearing on her unemployment benefits claim against the town, which was denied because she quit voluntarily.

Leonard and Steenburgh each have their own version of Tuesday’s scuffle. Leonard said it happened out of the view of the seniors but was witnessed by another employee.

Steenburgh, who started her position June 1, also contended the visit was staged to come only a week before town supervisor Joe Landry is up for re-election.

Landry said this week that Steenburgh contacted him after Leonard arrived. Landry then contacted Police Chief John Lubrant, who sent officers to the center.

Landry contended Leonard’s mere presence, as a former employee with a claim against the town, was disruptive, making the current employees nervous, not knowing what her intentions were. Landry also said the town would prefer Leonard not to come again, but Lubrant said there is no prohibition on her doing so.

On Friday, Lubrant recounted the status of the case for the Town Board’s public safety committee, relaying that the case had been turned over to the Sheriff’s Department. He said the move is a normal one when a department is dealing with its own current or former town employees.

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