By Gina Martinez
A Brooklyn federal judge ordered that Queens Public Library must pay for the defense of the former president and CEO, Thomas Galante.
Galante, who worked with the library for 27 years, was fired in December 2014 amid an FBI investigation of his outside consulting business and audit by City Comptroller Scott Stringer that determined Galante was using the Library to pay for personal expenses. Galante went on to sue the library for $2 million in November 2015 for breach of contract, claiming he was fired without cause.
Federal Judge Allyne Ross ruled that under the New York Not-for-Profit Corporation Law the library is required to provide Galante with reasonable litigations expenses for his defense against their counter claims. Ross ruled that the law “allows the director or officer of a not-for-profit corporation to seek advancement of legal fees when a lawsuit is filed against him for which he may ultimately be entitled to indemnification”
The library is seeking $200,000 from Galante for the questionable expenses. It is also seeking an additional $260,000 the library had to spend on legal fees that began accruing when the FBI started investigating Galante in 2014, which has not yet led to an indictment. The library also asked for Galante to return tablets, an iPhone, and desktop computer.
The countersuit charged Galante with charging over $200,000 in personal expenses on his library corporate credit card in the span of two years. Galante allegedly spent money on meals, alcoholic beverages, parking tickets, concert tickets, furniture for his office, office roof deck or home, and books he bought on Amazon for his Kindle.
“After giving 27 years of my life to the Queens Library and raising millions of dollars to make it better, the political winds changed overnight and my name was dragged through the mud,” Galante said. “I’m filing this lawsuit to set the record straight.”
In response to the lawsuit, the library counter sued Galante seeking recovery of its money.
The library also claims Galante was working full time for another employer in violation of his obligations to the library. It claims he conducted personal business on library time and utilized the legal services of the library’s outside counsel for his own personal benefit. Additionally, the suit claims he has refused to return property that belongs to the library.
Galante has denied all the allegations, claiming the expenditure were for the benefit of the library and that the library was aware and approved his outside consulting work and he has not kept any property belonging to the library.
The judge also ruled that if Galante is ultimately found guilty of misusing library funds, the fees advanced to him will have to be repaid.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart