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Ex-official sues Olympic Authority and IG

November 16, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A former state Olympic Regional Development Authority financial director filed a lawsuit against ORDA and the state inspector general's office Wednesday, Nov. 7.

In the lawsuit, Padraig Power claims ORDA and the IG are not providing information and documents he requested in a series of Freedom of Information Law inquiries. The requested documents include things such as various ORDA credit card statements from 2013 to 2018, contracts related to ORDA and alcohol-providing entities, and emails between Power, then-CEO Ted Blazer, board Chairman J. Patrick Barrett and board member Ed Weibrecht.

Power filed the suit in the state Supreme Court in Albany.

In June, more than a year after Power was fired, the IG charged him with grand larceny in the third degree, a felony, for allegedly using ORDA credit cards to make more than $6,300 in personal purchases, mostly alcohol. That case is playing out in the Lake Placid Village Court - People vs. Padraig Power.

Power's lawyer Edward Paltzik said the charges are "categorically, 100 percent false." Paltzik said all the purchases were made with the authorization of Blazer. Paltzik said many authorizations were verbal, but that Blazer signed every expense report before it went to the credit card company. Those are some of the documents Power requested.

"In many instances, the purchases were authorized beforehand, and others contemporaneously," Paltzik said in a phone interview Friday, Nov. 9.

Paltzik said the purchases were made for ORDA events such as the Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp, Blazer's birthday party, a corporate retreat for British Petroleum executives and a Christmas dinner for ORDA employees. He said ORDA has a history of events that include alcohol and entertainment, and that Power's purchases were no different from anything conducted in the past.

Blazer declined to comment for this article.

The lawsuit suggests that Power's removal and subsequent charges against him were based on a work disagreement he had with Barrett, Weibrecht. Part of the 44-page document details issues with "Parallel from the Start," a $169 ski instructional program for people 13 and older at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington. It says Power and Blazer did not find the program financially sound while Barrett and Weibrecht wanted to continue with it.

The lawsuit says, "During a meeting in September 2015 - against a backdrop of the 'Parallel from the Start' Program resulting in financial losses to ORDA - disagreement over the program came to a head when Barrett and Weibrecht unexpectedly arrived at the meeting and proceeded to berate Power, Liz Mezzetti (ORDA's then-director of marketing) and several ski instructors, blaming them for the Program's ongoing failure and threatening to fire all of them if they did not embrace the 'Parallel from the Start' Program."

Power's suit says he then emailed Barrett and Weibrecht, questioning if their behavior was tactful and productive. The two then went to Blazer and demanded Power apologize, which he did at Blazer's request, the lawsuit says.

In a phone interview on Nov. 9, Weibrecht said he doesn't remember a situation like the one described in the suit. Barrettin a previous interview, said, "I had very little, if any, contact with (Power). We'd work together at board meetings, but Power worked directly under Ted Blazer." Paltzik corroborated that, saying they didn't work closely with each other.

After Blazer retired in December 2016, Power would have liked to take the CEO position, but instead, it was given to Mike Pratt, who was the interim CEO at the time. In a section of the suit labeled "Pratt Leads an Ambush of Power," the lawsuit says Pratt called Power into his office on April 13, 2017, and two members of the IG's staff, Peter Amorosa and Katie McCutcheon, interrogated him for two hours about alcohol purchases. Later that day, Pratt gave Power a nine-page dismissal letter and a statement of charges, the lawsuit says.



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