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Commissioner Gipson’s Two Cents

Filed under: Uncategorized

In today’s print edition is a story I wrote about a dispute between Leonard Fink, a restorer of classic cars with a shop on Ontario Street, and attorney Frank Longo, who wouldn’t pay the bill Fink gave him for work done on Longo’s 1972 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. Fink says that Longo took the car without paying the bill, encouraged by Buffalo police officers, who watched as Longo drove the car away, despite Fink’s insistence that he had an express mechanic’s lien on the car until the billing dispute was settled.

BPD Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson

BPD Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson

I tried on Tuesday to get a comment about the police part in all this from Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson, and about attempts by Fink and other parties to draw Gipson’s attention to the matter.  BPD spokesman Mike DeGeorge couldn’t get me an answer until after our print deadline on Wednesday, so I’m posting DeGeorge’s answer here and now:

I spoke with the commissioner. He says he is not aware of this situation. And he doesn’t personally know either Frank Longo or  Leonard Fink. He said he might’ve met either in passing but can’t be sure of that. As far as a letter dated August 1st, the commissioner does not remember it. Police do respond to calls of ‘property dispute”; hundreds or even thousands  each year. For example in June 2007, there were approximately 215 “calls of service” for property disputes. The number of cars responding is not out of the ordinary, depending on cars in  the area when the call comes out and what else is happening at that time in that district.

The letter referred to was written by Fink to Gipson, asking him to look into the role his officers played in Longo removing the car from his lot. A retired BPD officer subsequently spoke to Gipson personally about the dispute, on Fink’s behalf, asking him to look into the whole affair.

Although this response addresses a couple of the questions I put to the commissioner, it fails to address several others: Did the officers act correctly in ignoring the signed mechanic’s lien? Did the officers act correctly in intervening as they did in a dispute over a bill? Did the officers act correctly in helping Longo to drive away in a car on which Fink may have had a lien?

  • Chet Morton

    Frank Longo is a former Democratic political figure who flipped to the Republican Party to run for judge as a Republican out in the Town of Tonawanda/Village of Kenmore.

  • RFS

    Outrageous? Can you believe the New York State Attorney Grievance Committee ruled it was okay for Longo, a licensed attorney, to violate the Mechanics Lein Law by taking the car because some police officer said it was okay? Can you believe the Chief Judge of our Judicial District wrote that she could not intervene in the matter, because the crime commited by Longo was part of a civil dispute? Can you believe the Police Commissioner Gipson denies receiving a letter he recieved, discussed with others and refused to answer or address the complaint? Of course you can believe, as its happening plain as day.

  • Peter A Reese

    Doesn’t Gipson have a nice uniform?

  • Anne Daggett

    I am submitting this article to Mike Hudson A The Niagara Falls Reporter, hopefully we can blitz this to the media!!!! Longo is a “HOOD RAT”

  • Marty

    Okay, he signed the work order, paid weekly for the body work, and even left pastries; was there an agreed date of completion?
    I’ve only got to hear one side of the story; but, police dare not tell anyone to ‘take’ the car knowing there is a bill against it.
    Unless there is immanent danger, there is no reason for police to ‘settle’ a civic dispute.
    At worst, the car should be impounded until a judge can rule.
    I’ve only heard of this happening a few times before, but it was usually in a small town where the police follow favoritism, not the law.

  • Patricia Castillo

    Way to go Anne. You beat me to the punch. The more exposure the better. Longo and his pocket police need to be exposed.

  • Anne Daggett

    Well what can we say Marty…. You just said it all!!!! Did I hear the word FAVORTISM?????? Things that make you go HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

  • Marty

    For the record, I don’t know either party. I do however work for repair shops, doing mechanic’s liens (in another state). So i do have a background in stuff like this; but, I know there is always another side of the story. What is it?