Chester supervisor says allegations against him are politically motivated after opponents alert media of lawsuit payout
Voters in the Town of Chester have less than four weeks until Election Day to decide if allegations of unethical behavior against their supervisor could be an abuse of power or dirty politics.
Supervisor Robert Valentine is up against two town councilmen, Bob Courtenay and Brandon Holdridge, who are running for his seat in the November election.
The candidates held a news conference last week outside of Town Hall alleging Valentine is abusing his power by having his trucking company, Valcon America Corp., work on two large town projects.
“The conflicts of interests in these two cases are and have been blatant,” said Holdridge during the news conference on Oct. 11.
Holdridge also alerted News 12 to an unlawful eviction lawsuit against Valentine, his estranged wife, Cora, and the town, that the board recently voted to pay a $10,000 insurance deductible on to settle the case.
Valentine says his business and the lawsuit are being misconstrued in a political attack by his opponents.
“It’s absolutely a witch hunt for the upcoming elections in November,” says Valentine.
Valentine says his trucking company is one of several dozen companies that have trucked fill in or out of the Greens of Chester and Canterbury Farms projects, but that his company has not trucked fill to the Greens of Chester since he became a supervisor.
He says the eviction lawsuit filed against him by former tenant, Marie Denardo, is manufactured and based on untruths - even though the town’s insurance wants to settle.
“She was planning this the whole time and it’s not right,” Valentine says. “The house was not for rent it was for sale. We were contacted by a realtor asking if we would be interested in renting it to somebody for a couple of months while they were going through an insurance repair at their house.”
Valentine says Denardo stayed at his estranged wife’s former residence on Creamery Pond Road while repairs were underway at the tenant’s own home in Goshen. Valentine says her insurance company paid for a two-month lease and terminated it after the time expired. He says Denardo was given notice to vacate the premises and that four several months later, without making any additional rent payments, she moved back into her own home.
“Her whole house was decorated for Halloween with mums on the porch and her garbage cans were full of garbage at her house,” says Valentine. “I went there, and her car was in the driveway. The dryer vent had steam coming out of it and lights were on.”
The lawsuit alleges Valentine wrongfully claimed Denardo “abandoned” the property and used town police officers to carry out an unlawful eviction during the COVID-19 eviction moratorium – changing the locks and allegedly removing her belongings.
Valentine says the town’s insurance company has agreed to pay Denardo $150,000 to settle the suit.
Holdridge, meantime, wants the district attorney to get to the bottom of any alleged conflicts.
“He has used his position as supervisor to illegally or unethically benefit his and his family’s business,” says Holdridge.
Valentine denies any wrongdoing and with less than a month until election day – it’s up to voters to decide.
Orange County District Attorney Dave Hoovler says his office will investigate the allegations against Valentine after the election, but that no complaints have been referred to them by the Chester Ethics Committee.