Woodstock resident, three years without service, sues Central Hudson executives over meters


Steve Romine

A lawsuit seeking “approximately $7 million” in damages was filed with in State Supreme Court May 19 against two former Central Hudson CEOs by Woodstock resident and talk show host Steve Romine, who claims to have suffered due to actions directed by past officials of the company.

“The reason I have to do this is because my rights have been violated,” said Romine, “my person has been violated and my partner’s physical body was violated by toxic trespass.”

Romine, a frequent letter writer to Woodstock Times and founder and host of the ‘Woodstock Truth Squad’ programs on WIOF at 104.1 FM and Channel 23 Public Access TV at 7 p.m. Mondays, and his mate, Ms. Nicole Nevin, have been cut off from Central Hudson’s electrical service for three years because he sought replacement of a new electric meter the utility company placed on his home without his consent.

Romine says he and Nevin were suffering from separate ailments which ceased when he replaced the new digital meter with an older analog meter which he said supplied the electric company with the information it needed for accurate billing. The replacement became unavoidable, Romine said, when Nevin suffered a mini-stroke while standing in front of the GE I-210 meter for which she was hospitalized and cautioned that she was now at risk of a major stroke within the next 90 days, whereupon Romine researched the meter issue for himself and removed the transmitter meter, which he returned to the company along with a video documenting its removal.

This action apparently prompted Central Hudson, which had been acquired by the transnational corporation Fortis Inc. in 2013, to disconnect Romine’s electricity in May of that year.

“We have been living disconnected from the electric company’s service for three years and it’s created a lot of trouble for us, a lot of grief and inconvenience,” Romine declared. “We also don’t appreciate having been exposed to a Class 2B carcinogen, for a couple of years before we found out about it. So, I decided that I couldn’t let them get away with it and as I weighed doing this or not, what persuaded me was that there’s a lot of other people that are in this situation. That convinced me to do it for not only myself but for a lot of other people.”

Question of ‘trespass’

The lawsuit specifies James P. Laurito and Steven V. Lant as defendants responsible for the offenses detailed in the suit due to their executive positions at the time. When contacted, John  Maserjian, Central Hudson’s Communications Representative said “Neither Mr. Laurito nor Mr. Lant work at Central Hudson. I can say they left

on good terms but they’re no longer here.”

Maserjian said he had checked around but no one has reported receiving the lawsuit so he could offer no response to it. Lant was also a director on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Upstate Advisory Board and served on the boards of Orange-Dutchess United Way, a non-profit organization based in Alexandria, Va. and Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress but had retired in 2014. Laurito, who had taken over Lant’s CEO chair, left Central Hudson a little more than a month ago for a promoted position with Fortis.

The ‘trespass’ is defined in Romine’s self-filed lawsuit as body-penetrating microwave radiation emitted around the clock by the RF transmitting digital meters. Such meters have been accused of causing a variety of adverse health effects in energy customers since power distributions companies began replacing older, nontransmitting meters within the last decade.

Romine said he would pursue the matter because “the public needs to realize what ‘Implied Consent’ is…that is when you don’t say ‘no’ and you don’t take a stand, you’re basically giving them consent (to install equipment he insists is hazardous) and they won’t stop until you do it — as we’re going to find out because New York City has just approved ‘2-way Smart Meters’ for Con Edison’s customer base. If it is activated in the City, it will spread to Central Hudson & other parts of the State.”

A website, Stopsmartmeterswoodstockny.com, has been established by Nevin to provide news of meter deployment, such as bills currently before the state legislature which would make Smart Meters mandatory and related wireless radiation issues.

“It’s just going to continue until somebody takes a stand,” Romine explained. “We’ve tried different ways to deal with this, through the Public Service Commission, the Ulster County Legislature, the Woodstock Town Board and so far, nothing’s worked. So, maybe what we need in collaboration with those efforts is a lawsuit to get some attention to these people who are pushing through dangerous technologies.”

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