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Koziol report focuses on discrimination
By ANNE POMEROY and DAN MINER Observer-Dispatch Posted Mar 23, 2010 @ 05:28 PM UTICA — A report authored by Leon Koziol that focuses on several different forms of discrimination in Utica was delivered last week to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Binghamton. Koziol, a local civil rights advocate and attorney, draws a link in the report between perceived racial discrimination by Utica officials and prejudice against fathers in custodial battles by the state court system. In February, the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division suspended his law license because he has not made child support payments for his two children. The ultimate goal of the report, Koziol said, is to convince the federal Justice Department to intervene in either specific local cases or with a broad investigation. Koziol held a civil rights forum in January, attended by about 80 people, which he used to gather information for the report. He drew a parallel to the recent involvement of the Justice Department in the discrimination case of an openly gay Mohawk school district teenager. “They could look at this and say, ‘We have a serious problem here in Utica,” Koziol said. Whether the Justice Department will take action is unclear. Kevin Dooley, a U.S. attorney who handles criminal civil rights complaints, would not comment on the report other than to verify it was received and say it will now be subject to an internal review process. Utica incidents Koziol’s report includes several recent high-profile incidents in the city, including: * Stephen Patterson, the city’s former public works commissioner who has been repeatedly cited by police for the gatherings he holds at the former Pistol Pete’s Bar. * Casey Stuckman, who was shot in the hand Oct. 13 by his then-girlfriend in West Utica, but was then “violently attacked” by officers who responded to the scene, according to Koziol. Both men have begun the process of filing lawsuits against the city based on racial discrimination, and in Stuckman’s case, gender discrimination. City Corporation Counsel Linda Sullivan-Fatata did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday. Mayoral Aide Angelo Roefaro said Mayor David Roefaro has received Koziol’s report but hasn’t read it. “The mayor is not going to make any comments until he reads it,” Angelo Roefaro said. Koziol also brings up former Utica police Investigator Joseph Longo Jr., who killed himself and his wife in their home just hours after he learned he would have to pay his wife $1,800 monthly in child support. “In law enforcement, the good guys and bad guys are both impaired by the father discrimination issue,” Koziol said.
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