Conboy resigns as Berne attorney, board authorizes Javid Afzali’s firm

Javid Afzali

Javid Afzali

BERNE — At its April 15 regular meeting, held remotely, the Berne Town Board accepted the resignation of its attorney, William Conboy III, and authorized Supervisor Sean Lyons to contract services from Bond Schoeneck & King, with attorney Javid Afzali to be appointed as town’s lead counsel.

Conboy’s resignation comes shortly after the New York State Supreme Court ruled that the town board’s Jan. 1 decision to remove Berne farmer Emily Vincent as a full member of the planning board was illegal, also invalidating the town board’s appointment of Thomas Spargo to the planning board as its chairman.

In an email to The Enterprise, Conboy denied that the outcome of the case was in any way related to his resignation, which he maintained was his decision.

“Yes, I had thought about/planned on resigning for a while now,” Conboy wrote, “the Vincent case had no effect on the decision. As I said in my resignation letter, I enjoyed representing the Town of Berne and working with many of the people in the Town.

“The main reason for my resignation is I wanted to have more time to dedicate to my two young children and their sports/activities,” he went on.

Conboy’s father had been Berne’s attorney before him.

After accepting Conboy’s resignation — with all board members voting aye except for Joel Willsey, who abstained — the board authorized Lyons, 4-0, with Willsey abstaining again, to contract services from Bond Schoeneck & King, which will appoint Javid Afzali as lead counsel. Afzali resigned last week as Knox’s attorney and is currently serving as Westerlo’s attorney.

“BOND is a full-service law firm with over 250 lawyers in more than 30 practice and industry groups,” Afzali told The Enterprise in an email. “While I will most likely take lead on most general municipal issues … other attorneys at BOND will also advise the Town on other matters such as labor/employment, municipal finance, tax certiorari and other legal matters necessary for the Town to govern.”

Lyons cited the firm’s “strong municipal background” in explaining the decision to The Enterprise. 

According to his biography on the Bond Schoeneck & King website, Afzali graduated summa cum laude from Siena College in 2009 with an undergraduate degree in political science and government, and he received his juris doctorate from Albany Law School in 2012, where he graduated magna cum laude. 

“Outside of Bond,” the biography reads, “Javid serves as an Officer in the United States Army (reserves) Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps and is a member of the Knox volunteer fire department.” 

Afzali lives in Knox with his wife, Mara, who is currently away on active duty for the Army reserve, he said. The couple has four children.

While Afzali was Knox’s attorney, the Knox Town Board voted not to reappoint three transfer station workers and, at the same Jan. 1, 2019 meeting, hired three replacements, including Afzali’s father-in-law, Glenn Walsh. Afzali denied that he played any role in the decision not to reappoint the transfer station workers.

In a letter to the Enterprise editor, Walsh explained that he had been hired by the town of Knox to be a park laborer six months prior to the dismissals of the transfer station workers and that he was the only respondent to an ad for one of the positions. 

The Albany County Department of Civil Service issued an opinion that the vote not to reappoint the two Knox workers who had been on the job more than five years was a violation of Civil Service Law, which held that those two of the workers were guaranteed a hearing before removal.

Those two workers filed an Article 78 and were ultimately rehired.

In a similar controversy, while Afzali was serving as Westerlo’s interim attorney in 2019, the town board voted to open up the position of assessor, then held by Peter Hotaling, who had been Westerlo’s assessor for 19 years. 

Deputy Personnel Officer David Walker, of the county’s Civil Service department, opined that this move was a violation of Civil Service Law, because Hotaling was protected from removal without a hearing that proves incompetence or misconduct. 

Hotaling filed an Article 78, but withdrew his case with prejudice before a ruling was made. Neither Hotaling nor his lawyer commented on the reason for the withdrawal.


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