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Ex-ORDA official sues to recoup legal costs

Ex-ORDA official sues to recoup legal costs

Padraig Power pleaded guilty to a violation-level offense

LAKE PLACID — The former finance director at the Olympic Regional Development Authority accused of misusing state-issued credit cards to buy alcohol is seeking to recoup his legal costs from the authority. 

Padraig Power and his attorneys, Joseph Mooney Paltzik LLP, are seeking $44,760.75 following several unsuccessful indemnification demands from the quasi-state agency. 

“Anything other than commencing this lawsuit would be futile,” the lawsuit states, “as ORDA could simply continue to drag the indemnification determination on for as long as it wants.”

The lawsuit was filed in state Supreme Court in Elizabethtown in Essex County on Monday.

Power and his legal team claim ORDA’s "Employee and Directors Liability Policy" is applicable to Power as a former employee. 

ORDA declined comment on Tuesday, citing pending litigation.

The Lake Placid-based entity operates the state’s Olympic infrastructure and tourism assets in the Adirondacks and Catskills, including ski and bobsled venues. 

The state Attorney General's Office initially charged Power last June with third-degree grand larceny, a felony, and official misconduct for allegedly using state-issued credit cards to charge more than $6,300 in personal purchases, mostly alcohol, between 2013 and 2017.

A plea agreement reached in Essex County Court in April saw Power agree to a non-criminal violation offense and pay the state authority $8,026 and perform 150 hours of community service, an outcome his legal team characterized as favorable.

Power, 34, continued to maintain his innocence, but “practical realities,” including the emotional toll taken on his family and legal costs, led to him taking the plea, according to court documents.

The state Inspector General’s Office had claimed alcohol is exempt from being a reimbursable expense.

But Power argued his purchases were business expenses approved by his superiors, including former ORDA CEO Ted Blazer.

Many of ORDA's events "are driven in large part by expectations of alcohol consumption," Power claimed, and alcohol- and entertainment-related expenses were a central aspect of the authority’s culture and widely used to foster relationships with vendors, sporting organizations, politicians and other dignitaries.  

Among the expenditures forming the basis for his prosecution for which Power said he had approval was a bar crawl timed to coordinate with the 2014 Eastern College Athletic Conference hockey playoffs, several events featuring 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey players and a happy hour to welcome new ORDA employees. 

Obtaining that documentation played a central role in his criminal case.

Power previously sued ORDA and the state Inspector General’s Office for what he claimed was failure to provide documents through the state’s Freedom of Information Law, a measure he maintained dragged out his prosecution. 

Those materials included credit card statements and written and email records between himself and agency personnel, including Blazer, as well as invoices related to the Adirondack Challenge, the state-funded bash designed to promote tourism. 

Many of those documents would have proved to be favorable for Power, claimed his legal team. 

ORDA eventually provided many of them, but only after Power reached a plea deal with the district attorney.

"It is unfortunate that ORDA's delays have once again left Mr. Power with no choice but to head back to court to seek remedies that he is entitled to,” said Edward Paltzik, his attorney. “This entire charade has been a waste of resources of ORDA's own making." 

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Meyer previously ruled in Power’s favor, and ORDA agreed to pay $10,000 in costs and attorneys fees to settle the lawsuit. 

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