Michael Richman is the chief compliance officer at Goldman Sachs. There, he monitors trading activity, seeks to prevent conflicts of interest, and generally ensures that employees of the bank are following the rules, regulations, and laws that dictate what they can and cannot do on the job. While other compliance officers are happy to leave their work at the office, Richman’s passion for forcing people to comply follows him right out of 200 West Street, all the way up to Bedford, N.Y. later that night. There, it’s his neighbors that do the complying.
The threat of lawsuits from litigious neighbors has prevented a movie starring Glenn Close, Kathy Bates and Danny Glover from filming in the posh town of Bedford. Close, who lives nearby, wanted the happy ending of “The Great Gilly Hopkins” (based on the children’s novel by Katherine Paterson) to be shot at the home of Suzanne and Stefano Galli. But the Gallis have been embroiled for years in a variety of lawsuits brought by their next-door neighbors Ruth Toporoff and husband Michael Richman, the chief of compliance officer at Goldman Sachs. “The production company scouted my house, had multiple meetings and signed a contract, but the town denied the permit,” Suzanne Galli told me. The local Bedford-Pound Ridge Record Review newspaper said the town council acted “due to fear of repercussions . . . the potential for litigation.” The movie scene will now be filmed elsewhere.
Maybe a lesser compliance officer would be swayed by the star power of Close, Bates, and (especially) Glover, but this one is most certainly not. Know what else Richaman’s not gonna stand for? The smell of equine excrement wafting onto his property from his neighbors’ barn. How does he know that the smell in question is not actually coming from his own horses? Obviously Richman and his wife own a special breed of horse that simply do not stink.
Besides suing the Gallis, Toporoff and Richman are suing Bedford’s wetlands control commission and the town zoning board. According to the Record Review, Bedford’s town attorney Joel Sachs has asked Westchester Supreme Court to assign a special arbitrator to handle the cases to ease the burden from all the litigation. Katherine Zalantis, the lawyer for Toporoff and Richman, said, “I have no comment because there is pending litigation.” Galli said her neighbors, though they own horses themselves, sued her claiming her barn was too close to the property line and that the smell of manure drifts onto their land. Richman was asked how he could tell whose horses were creating the odor. “He basically got up in court and said, ‘My poop doesn’t stink,’ ” Galli said.