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Commander of Watertown American Legion claims slander by four members

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The commander of Watertown’s Army & Navy American Legion Post 61 has filed a libel and slander lawsuit against four post members he claims are trying to oust him.

Steven W. Plumb filed state Supreme Court action March 25 against James M. Marshall, Christy L. Chiumento, Wayne Scott and Philip E. Gary. The suit, which does not name the legion as a defendant, seeks $250,000 in damages.

According to court documents, the post’s board of directors held a meeting Feb. 10 in which the board voted 12-1 to remove Mr. Plumb as commander. According to minutes taken from the meeting and filed with the court, a board member read 18 charges against Mr. Plumb pertaining to his “negligence, conduct unbecoming a legionnaire and dishonesty.” Ms. Chiumento also signed a statement claiming Mr. Plumb repeatedly uses vulgar language at the post on Sterling Street and Mr. Gary maintains that Mr. Plumb subjected him to “a verbal attack,” among other reasons for seeking the commander’s removal.

Mr. Plumb’s attorney, David P. Antonucci, Watertown, said it is Mr. Plumb’s contention that several procedural mistakes were made during the meeting and vote to remove him, making the board’s decision nonbinding.

“It is our position that the meeting wasn’t legally called,” Mr. Antonucci said.

Mr. Antonucci said the alleged actions of board members have been an ongoing problem for Mr. Plumb. He has started a separate legal action against Craigslist, claiming that libelous statements about him have been posted anonymously on that website. The action seeks to obtain either the names or the Internet protocol addresses for the posters. Judge Hugh A. Gilbert has signed an order telling Craigslist it must provide the information to Mr. Plumb, although Mr. Antonucci said he has yet to receive a response from the company.

“He’s just tired of having these people run his name into the ground for no reason or no basis, to apparently undermine his control of the legion,” Mr. Antonucci said.

Lowville attorney Michael F. Young, who is representing the four defendants, said Tuesday that it is his practice not to comment on pending litigation. He said he would be filing a response with the court within the next few days.

Mr. Antonucci said Mr. Plumb remains commander of the Watertown post after being reinstated by the American Legion Department of New York pending further review of the action.

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