The Real Deal New York

L.I. official punished over Lauder land deal, lawsuit alleges

March 02, 2014 02:00PM

 A dispute between billionaire cosmetics magnate, Ronald Lauder, and Charles Butler, the secretary-treasurer of the Bridgehampton Fire District, over a tiny Hamptons parcel has landed in court.

Lauder had attempted to purchase a 60-by-100-foot residential property adjourning his extensive property in the hamlet of Wainscott. The property was appraised at $1.1 million and Lauder offered $940,000. However, two other potential buyers came forward, offering $999,999 and the other $1.01 million, according to the New York Post.

Nevertheless, the district decided to sell to Lauder, arguing that the rival bidders had personal vendettas against Lauder. But Butler loudly disagreed with the sale, citing political and financial connections between the board chairman Steven Halsey and Lauder.

In a matter of weeks Butler was stripped of his duties as secretary and treasurer. The commissioners then eliminated his benefits and reduced his $60,000 salary to $1,200, and then to nothing. But since Butler is an elected official those salary reductions violated state law, according to the lawsuit.

The board has since replaced the treasurer with an outside service to “cut costs.” The lawsuit is currently pending. [NYP]Christopher Cameron