Lawsuit filed by former employee says Greece supervisor made him do private work for him – unpaid

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GREECE, N.Y. – The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office is looking into claims that Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich forced a former employee to do work for him on the side for free.

“We have been made aware of certain allegations against the Greece Town Supervisor and other members of the Town of Greece administration. We will make no further comment on the investigation at this time,” according to a statement from District Attorney Sandra Doorley’s office.

A new lawsuit accuses Reilich of forcing a DPW employee to do hundreds of hours of unpaid labor at his private business and then retaliating against that employee when he complained and refused to lie about it. 

In the 40-page suit, former Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Robert “Bobby” Johnson says from 2014-2022 he worked at Bill Reilich’s side business, known as the “Hot Rod Ranch,” located on Swamp Road in Sweden. Johnson claims he was required to inspect, transport, work on, repair, and refurbish the vehicles that Reilich resold and was also required to directly respond to inquiries and questions from individuals who purchased vehicles from Reilich. 

When the arrangement started back in 2014, Johnson says Reilich would occasionally give him small personal checks for his time, but by 2015 the payments stopped. Johnson’s attorney, Maureen Bass of Abrams Fensterman, LLP, tells News10NBC that her client felt the only way to keep his job, benefits, and pension with the Town of Greece DPW was to continue the private work for the supervisor.

In 2016, when Johnson informed Reilich that he could no longer do work on Saturdays due to family obligations, it’s alleged that Reilich insisted he work on Fridays instead when he would normally be on the job for the town. The complaint says Johnson was required to use paid time off on Fridays and instead work at the ranch. When he ran out of PTO, Johnson says he met with Deputy Town Supervisor Michelle Marini.

“There was a time where Bobby Johnson was told by the deputy supervisor, Michele Marini, that if Bobby Johnson was doing work for Bill Reilich, then he was doing work for the Town of Greece,” says Bass. 

The arrangement is alleged to have continued until the arrest of the former Greece Police chief in late 2021 for drunk driving. According to the lawsuit, Reilich knew the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office would be interviewing town employees and “told Bobby Johnson that if the investigator asked about his work at the Ranch, Bobby Johnson should tell the investigator that he was not at the Ranch but working for Greece from home,” the suit says.

“That consequently was too much for Bobby Johnson to handle – the thought of having to lie to a district attorney investigator to keep his job – and he shortly retired as soon as possible after that breakfast meeting,” Bass tells News10NBC.

After retiring from the Department of Public Works, Johnson says the town refused to give him the retiree health benefits he was rightfully entitled to.

“It’s his belief that he was denied the healthcare coverage enrollment because he had stopped working at the ranch for free, in Supervisor Reilich’s side business of selling used vehicles,” Bass says. 

In a text message on Monday, Bill Reilich told News10NBC:

Thus far there has been nothing served. Based on the firm name, this would be the same lawyer that represents other disgruntled employees- she takes cases to court and then posts them out in the media to try to get easy settlements. We won’t be settling with people who try to get money and benefits they are not entitled to. It’s unfortunate because they waste taxpayer resources.

Bill Reilich

It’s taxpayer resources that Bass says Reilich has been wasting for his own personal gain.

“It’s very disappointing,” she says. “This was the only job Bobby Johnson ever had. He started working there when he was a teenager. He worked there for 36 years. To call him a disgruntled employee, it’s just more insult to injury.”

Johnson is suing for more than $5 million in back pay, overtime, health benefits, and future losses. The lawsuit names the Town of Greece; Bill Reilich; Michelle Marini; Kirk Morris, who is the commissioner of Public Works; and Keith Suhr, the personnel director for the town.