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OHMS History

Office of Hearings and Mediation Services: A Brief History

The origin of the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services extends back to the passage of the Water Supply Act of 1905 (Chapter 724, Laws of 1905). Subsequent to the passage of that legislation, commissions were established to conduct water-related hearings and project reviews. These included the Water Power and Control Commission ("WPCC") created in 1928 (Chapter 242, Laws of 1928) and the Water Resources Commission ("WRC") created in 1960 (Chapter 7, Laws of 1960). The functions, powers and duties of the WPCC and WRC were incorporated into the Department of Environmental Conservation ("Department") when the Department was established in 1970 (see section 15-0317 of the Environmental Conservation Law ["ECL"]). The Bureau of Hearings was then organized, with a number of WRC hearing officers continuing with the new bureau. The Bureau of Hearings was subsequently renamed the Office of Hearings.

During the 1970's various Department regulatory programs had their own hearing procedures. In 1978, regulations governing enforcement hearings were issued (see Part 622 of Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York ["NYCRR"]). Following the enactment of the Uniform Procedures Act (see ECL Article 70), the Department extensively restructured its permit hearing procedures and regulations governing permit hearings were issued (see 6 NYCRR Part 624). Subsequently, in late 1993 extensive revisions to the regulations governing enforcement hearing procedures and permit hearing procedures were issued, which revisions became effective in January 1994.

During the 1980's and continuing to today, the Office of Hearings has provided, pursuant to memoranda of understanding and related agreements, the services of its administrative law judges to other State agencies for specific matters. In May 1996, in recognition of the responsibilities of the Office of Hearings in the mediation of environmental disputes, the name of the Office of Hearings was changed to the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services. The office's administrative law judges have also served as associate examiners in Article VIII and Article X proceedings before the New York State Department of Public Service.

The following lists those individuals who have served with the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services, the Office of Hearings and the Water Resources Commission.

Assistant/Deputy Commissioner

Louis A. Alexander(1) 7/28/03 -
(effective 9/20/18, title changed from Assistant to Deputy Commissioner)
Jo Anne W. Di Stefano 9/10/01 - 3/13/03
James H. Ferreira 4/1/99 - 3/29/01
G.S. Peter Bergen 8/14/95 - 2/6/99
Robert H. Feller 11/86 - 3/10/95
Richard Williams 4/17/86 - 11/12/86
Peter Crary 3/85 - early 1986
Daniel A. Ruzow 9/80 - 2/10/85
(initial title: Hearings Counsel, then Assistant Commissioner)
Laurens Vernon 10/14/76 - mid- to late 1980
(title: Hearings Counsel, Director)

Chief Administrative Law Judge (CALJ) (2)

James T. McClymonds
Daniel E. Louis
Robert S. Drew
Edwin L. Vopelak


Michele M. Stefanucci
D. Scott Bassinson
Jessica Albin
Joan Leary Matthews
Anthony C. Bucca
Thomas Woods

Administrative Law Judge (3)

Jayne Awerbuch (subsequently married; married name Jayne F. Concra)
Judith K. Bentley
Edward Buhrmaster
Donald F. Carson
Michael Caruso
Kevin J. Casutto
Jayne F. Concra (see Jayne Awerbuch, above)
Fiero F. DeMasi
William J. Dickerson
Robert S. Drew (subsequently became CALJ, see above)
Susan J. DuBois
P. Nicholas Garlick
Helene G. Goldberger
A. Marshall Irving (Long Island office) (4)
Samuel J. Kearing, Jr. (Long Island office)
Daniel E. Louis (subsequently became CALJ, see above)
Molly T. McBride
Frank Montecalvo
Daniel P. O'Connell
Robert P. O'Connor
John H. Owen
Andrew S. Pearlstein
John Saccar (Long Island office)
Mark D. Sanza
Sidney A. Schwartz
Francis W. Serbent
Richard A. Sherman
Charles A. Taylor
Maria E. Villa
Susan F. Weber
Lisa Wilkinson
Richard R. Wissler

Note: In special circumstances, individuals outside of the Office of Hearings (and in one instance, an Assistant Commissioner) were assigned to serve as hearing officers or administrative law judges on specific matters. These included the following:

Robert E. Brink(5)
Thomas P. Cleary(6)
Jeffrey C. Cohen (7)
Robert A. Cook(8)
John L. Hanks(9)
Albert J. Rosenthal (10)
Daniel A. Ruzow(11)
Abraham Sofaer (12)

Support Staff

Linda Ayotte
Kathy Durivage
Marie Furlong
Sally Jones
Carol Lambert
Carol LaMountain
Lauren MacDonald
Ann Maceka
Jeanne Meal
Karen Mohan
Grace Moore
Elaine Rooney
Linda SantaBarbara
Kimberly D. Sarbo
Arlene Schmidt
Lisa Smith
Cynthia Tomlinson
Norma Unverhau
Deborah Vachon

Interns (2001 to present) (13)

Jennifer Albright (2005-2006)
J. Michael Angstadt (2009)
John Bohrer-Yardley (2013)
Paul Buchbinder (2008)
Caitlin Davie (2012)
Daniel Ellis (2010)
Alita Giuda (2004 - 2005)
Charles Gottlieb (2010)
Leonard Gryskewicz (2014)
Lukas Horowitz (2018)
Lindsey L. Johnson (2017)
Sanjeevani Joshi (2012)
Donna Kerwin (2003)
Daniel Lindenberg (2006 - 2007)
Quinn Morris (2006 - 2007)
Patrick Joseph ("PJ") Murphy (2001)
Molly Parlin (2018)
Chad Pritts (2011)
Abigail Sardino (2012)
Daniel Schlesinger (2009)
Michael Sinkevich, Jr. (2005 - 2006)
Carin Spreitzer (2002 - 2003)
Scott Toth (2009)
Scott Troia (2010)
Radina Valova (2010)
Tyler Vinal (2011)
Emily Whalen (2004)
Jennifer Wlodarczyk (2017)
Tyler Wolcott (2013)
Kadeem Wolliaston (2016)

Water Resources Commission: Stream Protection Section ("SPS") and Water Supply Section ("WSS")(14)

Kenneth Arenholtz (WSS)
Donald F. Carson (WSS)
Robert A. Cook (WSS), Secretary to the Commission
Terrence Curren (SPS)
Stuart M. Dean (WSS)
William J. Dickerson (WSS)
Jeremiah Dineen (SPS)
Robert S. Drew (WSS), Secretary to the Commission
Arthur Johnson (WSS, Long Island Section)
Kenneth Kampf (WSS/SPS)
David D. Morey (WSS)
John Saccar (WSS, Long Island Section)
Henry Schiller (WSS)
John Stallmer (SPS)
Russell Suter, Executive Engineer & Secretary to the Commission (WSS)
John C. Thompson, Executive Engineer & Secretary to the Commission (WSS)
Edwin L. Vopelak (WSS)
Walter Waterman (WSS, Long Island Section)

Dated: November 11, 2006. Updated: October 15, 2018. This compilation was prepared by Louis A. Alexander who wishes to thank, in particular, former Assistant Commissioners Robert H. Feller and Daniel A. Ruzow, former Chief Administrative Law Judges Robert S. Drew and Daniel E. Louis, former administrative law judge William J. Dickerson, and administrative law judges Susan J. DuBois, Edward Buhrmaster, Kevin J. Casutto, and Daniel P. O'Connell for their assistance. To the extent that anyone has further information regarding past personnel of the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services, please contact Louis A. Alexander at (518) 402-8537 or at

1Names of current personnel are bolded.

2 When the position of Assistant Commissioner has been vacant, the Commissioner of the Department has at times designated the then CALJ as Acting Assistant Commissioner.

3 By memorandum dated May 7, 1979, Laurens Vernon directed that the title of "administrative law judge" should be used instead of "hearing officer." This change, which had been approved by the General Counsel of the Department, did not, however, change the title (environmental impact examiner) used for purposes of civil service classification for that position. The title of "hearing officer" remained in the regulations governing enforcement hearings until 1994.

4 The Long Island office of the Office of Hearings was discontinued in the late 1980's.

5 Appointed as hearing officer for at least one proceeding (see Matter of Claremont Polychemical Corp., Order of the Commissioner, July 16, 1984).

6 Appointed as administrative law judge for at least one proceeding (see Matter of SCA Chemical Waste Services, Inc. (Phase II), Decision of the Commissioner, April 21, 1981).

7 Appointed administrative law judge for Brooklyn Navy Yard proceeding on July 15, 1986. Subsequent recusal in 1987 pursuant to decision of the Appellate Division, First Department (see NYPIRG v. Williams, 127 AD2d 512 (1st Dept, 1987)).

8 Acting Director, Division of Resource Management Services, appointed as hearing officer for at least two proceedings (see Matter of Long Island Co., Hearing Officer's Report, February 18, 1972 & Matter of Montgomery County, Decision of the Commissioner, October 30, 1973).

9 Appointed as hearing officer for at least one proceeding (see Matter of Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Hearing Officer's Report, November 7, 1979).

10 Professor at Columbia University, School of Law. Appointed as hearing officer for the West Side Highway Project and at least one other proceeding (see Matter of Texaco, Inc., Decision of the Commissioner, May 5, 1975).

11 Special appointment as administrative law judge in Matter of Schenectady/Town of Niskayuna Water Supply Permit (see id., Decision of the Commissioner, January 15, 1986).

12 Appointed as hearing officer for General Electric Corporation/Hudson River PCB proceeding.

13 Department records relating to interns in the Hearings Office are incomplete prior to 2001. To date, four pre-2001 interns have been identified: Cynthia Murphy and Jack Cunningham who interned in the mid-1980's, and Mark Sweeney and Sheila McNamara who interned at some point in the 1990's.

14 The WSS had both an Albany office and a Long Island office. The Office of Hearings continued the practice of having an office in Albany and an office in Long Island until the late 1980's.

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