A State Supreme Court justice has ordered the Town of Hamburg to return the highway superintendent's vehicle while the judge considers the dispute.
Justice Dennis E. Ward granted a temporary restraining order Friday at the request of Highway Superintendent Ted Casey.
"In the event the Town of Hamburg Police Department has taken possession of the Highway Department Ford Expedition it shall be returned immediately upon receiving this order," Ward said in his order.
Casey and the Hamburg Town Board are tussling over the town-owned vehicle, which the board said Casey has driven out of town for personal use in violation of town policy. A town employee took a photo of the black Ford Expedition outside Regal Quaker Crossing on the evening of Nov. 9. Casey said in a memo to the Town Board he stopped at the movie theater to unwind after working late. He maintains in court papers "occasional, incidental private use" is acceptable.
"Being on call 24/7, it is imperative that I have ready access to my highway vehicle as it is equipped with necessary safety equipment including emergency lighting, CB radio to communicate with dispatch and personnel protective equipment," Casey told the board in the memo.
After Casey drove the town SUV to Philadelphia in 2018 and got a ticket for running a red light, the town instituted a policy that required department heads with take-home cars to drive between home and work. Casey said that he paid the town for the ticket and use of the vehicle for that trip. Casey has violated the policy several times this year before going to the movies, according to Supervisor James M. Shaw.
“The superintendent of highways, unfortunately, insists that he can do what he wants to do, and the law of the State of New York – specifically, the Constitution of the State of New York – says that you cannot use town property for personal pursuits or private benefit. That’s the law,” Shaw said.
Shaw said he was told Casey surrendered the vehicle Friday afternoon.
Lawyers for the town and Casey are to be in court Wednesday to argue over Casey's request for a preliminary injunction preventing the town from taking the vehicle. The two sides are to be back in court Jan. 8 over Casey's challenge to the Town Board resolution ordering the SUV to be taken from him for 60 days.
Harold McNeil contributed to this article.