State lawyer hurls f-bombs at Albany priest

March 17, 2017 07:24 PM

ALBANY - Can you imagine anyone hurling f-bombs at a Catholic priest? Can you imagine a state official doing it at a public meeting and getting away with it?

That's apparently what happened to Father Peter Young last July, along with several executive board members of his organization when they asked New York State officials to restore funding to their organization.

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The root of the problem apparently dates back five or six years when several employees of Peter Young Housing, Industries, and Treatment were convicted of embezzling charges.

Father Young says he thinks he's been able to right the ship, but regardless of the state funding issue, may people remain outraged over the way the well-respected clergyman was treated.

Every single one of the letters that Father Peter Young keeps on file -- and there are thousands of them -- represents somebody's life, or as he likes to explain, somebody's search for dignity. By the end of April he fears he won't be able to continue helping those people.

"All contracts, all services end," Father Young says, "We're going to be out of business so he (OASAS Counsel Robert Kent) is trying to close those programs and I'm saying why can't we sit down and find out what our problem is?"

Father Young is referring to a meeting that took place last summer when several executive board members of his organization Peter Young Housing Industries, Treatment (PYHIT) tried to get some answers. But while attending that meeting at the State's Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), that agency's General Counsel Robert Kent, according to Young, told everyone: The state does not want to do f--king business with you people. This is f--king over. I speak on behalf of the state of New York."

"I don't know what made him get upset in a way that he expressed himself in a vulgar manner," Young says, "I don't known what caused him to be upset because we were going in with a set agenda,discussing what we had hoped to do."

Young says he's more interested in establishing a dialog with OASAS then he is concerned about the way he was treated.

Others however aren't as forgiving.

"Clearly this individual can't control himself," assessed State Senator Jim Tedisco (R - Glenville), "There was no need to use that type of language."

Tedisco was one of several area lawmakers who have written letters to the OASAS Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez not only asking for an explanation why the agency wants to shut down PYHIT, but also adamant about reprimanding Mr. Kent.

"I"m calling for his resignation because I don't think the public wants to see someone who leads this administration and represents them in the state use that kind of language with anybody, let along anyone whose any part of the clergy," Tedisco states.

When reached for comment, Jonah Bruno, Director of Public Information and Communications for OASAS released the following statement:

"We have great respect for Father Peter Young and the great work he has done to improve the lives of people with substance use disorders. However, as we have previously stated, in order to access State taxpayer dollars to provide public services, an organization must be able to demonstrate not only that it is legally and fiscally sound, but capable of maintaining a system of operations to deliver those services. Despite efforts and assistance from multiple state agencies and the Attorney General's office, PYHIT has repeatedly failed to demonstrate that it is able to meet these criteria."

OASAS also acknowledges receiving the letter from lawmakers and says they are reviewing it.


Dan Levy

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