ALBANY — James F. Lyman, the former executive director of one of the state’s largest law enforcement unions, has filed a petition seeking to compel the union to turn over records related to his abrupt termination in 2016.
Lyman, 55, is a former Albany city detective who headed Council 82 for eight years after his retirement from the police force. He was fired from the $185,000-a-year job for reasons the union would not publicly disclose. The executive board for the Albany-based Council 82, which represents more than 3,800 police and correction officers, voted unanimously to terminate Lyman during a meeting in June 2016.
A termination letter was given to Lyman a month after he was placed on administrative leave upon returning from a national labor meeting in Washington, D.C.
Lyman was locked out of Council 82’s Colvin Avenue headquarters that year around the time the union’s leadership began examining his dealings in the private insurance marketplace and whether that work overlapped with his union’s insurance contracts, including whether Lyman improperly accessed members’ contact information.
The Times Union reported four years ago that Lyman used a union credit card to purchase Florida airline tickets for himself and two family members, but that Lyman repaid the travel costs through payroll deductions after alerting a union official that he inadvertently used the card for a personal purchase.
The union’s 2016 examination of Lyman’s business dealings included having him interviewed that year by Robert S. Hite, an attorney and former Council 82 general counsel who was appointed by the union to investigate the situation. Lyman answered questions from Hite but was not allowed to have an attorney present, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.
During the interview, Lyman was “asked question(s) and shown documents alleging his misconduct,” according to the court petition filed recently by Lyman.
Council 82 leaders, then and now, have declined to respond to requests for comment or to inform their members of the details of Lyman’s termination.
Lyman’s petition seeks a judge to order what is known as a “pre-action discovery,” which would give Lyman and his attorneys the ability to review Council 82’s internal records, including any correspondence and notes, regarding Lyman’s termination. An attorney for Lyman said any complaint they may pursue might include allegations of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and interference with business relations.
Lyman joined the Albany police force in 1988 after four years as an Albany County correction officer. He left the department for full-time union leave in 2004. He retired from his police job in 2008, around the time he was named executive director of Council 82.
Lyman and his attorney, Gregory S. Teresi, did not respond to requests for comment.
It’s not the first time Lyman has used the courts to seek recourse for allegations that he has suffered harm.
In 2010, Lyman and then-Council 82 President Christian M. Mesley, also a former Albany officer, filed a personal injury lawsuit against Albany County District Attorney David Soares that claimed they suffered “mental anguish” from comments Soares made about them during the 2008 election cycle. The unusual lawsuit came after Mesley and Lyman had clashed with Soares publicly for years and openly supported opponents of the district attorney in past elections, including the use of union funds and resources.
That same year, Lyman filed a series of workers’ compensation claims, including one that stated he had suffered hearing loss due to loud noises from sirens and gunfire. Another claim filed by Lyman alleged he sustained permanent foot, arm and hand injuries due to years of police work, including a 1992 incident when he tripped over a stereo speaker.
Council 82 is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Lyman, who also served on the executive council of the state AFL-CIO, previously served as Council 82’s elected statewide president.