Ulrich accuses Crowley of potential conflict of interest

Ulrich accuses Crowley of potential conflict of interest
Photos by Christina Santucci

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) has suggested fellow Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) potentially violated the city’s conflict of interest policy by using the power of her office to shut down the Bayview Grille and Marina in Broad Channel after a physical altercation involving her son in July 2016.

In April, Ulrich contacted Michele Weinstat, the director of enforcement at the Conflicts of Interest Board, in an email and included a series of violations issued by the State Liquor Authority to Bayview regarding the possible cancelation of the watering hole’s liquor license from March 2017. One of the owners of Bayview had told Ulrich this was the result of Crowley urging the agency to crack down on the venue.

Ulrich said he was contacted by the owner of Bayview, Nick Martelli, on the day he sent the email to the board. The councilman said Martelli told him he believed he was being targeted by Crowley after an assault involving her son , Dennis O’Hara, 20, and his brother.

The New York Post reported O’Hara, who was working at the Bayview, and her other son, Owen, 19, were attacked outside the bar in July 2016.

“Apparently, after he was recently involved in a physical altercation and his employment was terminated, the bar was subsequently visited, inspected by multiple city and state agencies, including SLA,” Ulrich wrote in the email to Weinstat. “The owners allege that one of the police officers from the 100th Precinct told them Council member Crowley called to report underage drinking, etc.”

Bayview is located at 25 Van Brunt Rd., outside the councilwoman’s district, and Ulrich contended in the email that it is an abuse of power for elected officials to sic government agencies on businesses over personal matters.

“This establishment is currently closed due to renovations but is now in jeopardy of their liquor license (being) revoked,” Ulrich continued. “They have hired an attorney to handle this matter before the SLA. However, they are fearful that Council member Crowley will continue to misuse her position as an elected official to harass them when they re-open next month.”

A spokesman for Crowley claimed Ulrich’s email was prompted by campaign contributions from Bayview’s part-owner, Robert Pisani. In June and October 2016, Ulrich received at least one donation of $250 from Pisani and later wrote an email on behalf of the business.

The spokesman for Crowley further alleged that Ulrich made the complaint public following Crowley’s endorsement of Mike Scala, who is challenging Ulrich as a Democrat in the upcoming general election, and after the Queens Republican Party gave Crowley’s opponent, Robert Holden, the greenlight to run as a Republican. Crowley defeated Holden in the Democratic primary.

The city Dept. of Investigation declined to comment.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.