BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – Overspending allegations drove a political witch hunt that cost a Queens Public Library system CEO his $2.2 million severance package, he says in a federal complaint.
After a decade as head of one of the nation’s busiest libraries, Thomas Galante was fired last December amid a series of articles by the New York Daily News.
The 50-page federal lawsuit Galante filed Monday says leaks from the city’s newly minted comptroller Scott Stringer and the newly elected Queens Borough President Melinda Katz spurred his takedown.
As the city’s financial watchdog, Stringer audited Galante in 2014, claiming that Galante had used the library’s money to buy airplane seat upgrades, booze, office furniture, concert tickets and Mets souvenirs.
Galante says Katz then went on the attack to demand his ouster.
Neither Stringer nor Katz are named as defendants to Galante’s lawsuit, however, which takes aim only at the library and two members of its trustee board.
A 27-year veteran with the library system, Galante concedes that the “library had the right to terminate his employment.” But, he says, he’s owed $2.2 million in severance pay.
Galante’s lawsuit reads like a resume; he notes that under his leadership the library’s revenues rose to at least $128 million, that “the library flourished,” and that he modernized facilities, increased usership, and won “national and international accolades.”
Shortly after Katz was elected borough president, however, the Daily News launched its “series of attacks” on Galante, leading to his ouster.
Comptroller Stringer helped by “selectively and misleadingly” disclosing information about Galante to the tabloid, according to the complaint.
Galante says no one ever talked to him about it.
“The tactics used against him are evidence of extreme bad faith,” he says.
Galante says the library claimed to fire him “for cause,” which he says is just a way to withhold his entitled severance package.
The office of the comptroller did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.
Galante wants his $2 million, and is represented by Tom Rohback with Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider in Manhattan.
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