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Rye Mayor Addresses Allegations on Rental Property

RYE, N.Y. - Rye Mayor Douglas French addressed allegations surrounding a rental property he owns with his wife at 13 Richard Place in a memo he issued Thursday.

Last July French was issued a violation by the city's building department for "building without a permit" on the Richard Place residence.

In his address, French agreed with testimony from the previous owner that the violations occurred before he ever purchased the home.

"As many homeowners face, based on the violation, we are filing the appropriate permits with the building department to legalize the work that was done by the previous owner," French said in his memo.

French was also issued a violation in December for converting the home from a two-family residence to a one-family residence. French has said the property was listed as a single family residence when he purchased it in 1992.

In addition to the building violations, French was also implicated in tax fraud after records allegedly revealed that the mayor had been claiming the STAR tax exemption. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (NYSTAF) website states a homeowner is eligible for the STAR tax exemption on a “primary residence” only.

According to Rye Assessor Noreen Whitty, French filed for the exemption on the Richard place residence when it was his primary residence. After relocating to his current home on Meadow Place in 2001, French failed to remove the exemption from his previous home.

French has been on record as stating he intends to fully pay back any wrongly claimed exemptions.

"The law allows for a look-­back period of only three years, however, our position is that what is owed is owed," French said in his address. "We have applied with the County Tax Director‘s office to determine the amount due with penalties and will make full restitution once the amount is determined."

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