New York Daily News

December 19, 2002

Judges toss suits over 9/11 PBA fund

By MIKE CLAFFEY
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has won a pair of court victories in an ongoing battle over its handling of $14million in contributions made to its Widows and Children's Fund after the terror attacks.

Two Manhattan judges have tossed two suits brought by families of victims seeking to open the police union's books.

Supreme Court Justice Ira Gammerman shot down a suit filed by relatives of two officers who died in the attacks - Brian McDonell and Jerome Dominguez - ruling that they were seeking information without establishing a basis for the suit.

"A further inquiry by the court, in the absence of more compelling facts to support a cause of action, is unwarranted and will only burden the charity with significant additional legal expenses," Gammerman said.

In a suit brought by the family of John Perry, Surrogate Judge Eve Preminger ruled the case was out of her jurisdiction because money from the fund would not be paid to Perry's estate, but directly to his survivors.

Both judges noted that state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office, which polices charities in the state, looked over the fund's books and found no problems.

PBA President Patrick Lynch said the rulings vindicated the union's handling of the donations.

"Our main concern all along has been to ensure that the generous contributions from all over America reached the people for whom they were intended," he said. "These decisions demonstrate the care we took in achieving that goal."

Ed Hayes, a former political ally of Lynch's who represents families suing the union, vowed to continue battling to force the union to open its books.

"The PBA gave the smallest percentage of the total to the families who lost someone, and it's desperately trying to hide what it has," he charged.

The union disputes that - and contends all $8 million earmarked for loved ones of Sept. 11 victims went directly to the families.

The other $6 million collected since the attacks went to families of other slain officers, PBA officials said.