When This 'Posse' Is Called Out, Good Things Happen   

The Posse's logo

Monticello, NY – Mention “The Posse” in most places, and you’d be met with confusion, skepticism or suspicion. But drop that same phrase in the Town of Bethel, and you’re likely to receive a smile in return.

“This Posse is built around Bethel,” affirms Allan Abramson, the group’s founder and thus its “Sheriff.”

“But we’re not a militia!” adds “Deputy” Dan Silna, to chuckles from his fellow deputies.

They’re a modern-day twist on the Robin Hood legend, except they’re not stealing from the rich to give to the poor. These nearly two dozen local residents are men who’ve reaped great profit and success in their lives, and they seek to share that wealth with neighbors in need.

The idea springs from 16th century England, explains Allan, when citizens were assembled by authorities to deal with an emergency, known as a posse comitatus (Latin for “power of the county”). In Bethel’s case, that means collecting donations from the Posse’s members, then giving those funds to a worthy cause or individual.

Over the past decade, more than $40,000 has been distributed throughout the Town of Bethel: for the carved wooden eagle in front of the town hall in White Lake, for the nascent Bethel Arts Council, for the White Lake Fire Department, and for a heating fuel fund benefitting town residents in need, to name a few.

“People know who we are,” nods Allan – especially if they frequent the Bethel Market Cafe, where the Posse has gathered every week since 2014. Even there, the Posse makes its mark, paying $20 per plate no matter what members order, which typically totals a generous tip for the serving staff.

“We live in this community – this is our home,” Allan explains.

“And I can’t tell you how glad I am that they do call Bethel home,” affirms Bethel Town Supervisor Daniel Sturm, who has worked closely with the Posse on the citizen heating assistance program and siting the eagle at the town hall, which helped Bethel land a $100,000 Sullivan Renaissance award. “Their generosity of community spirit, time and funds continues to amaze and inspire, and on behalf of the entire Town, I say ‘Thank you!’”

While their efforts typically extend only to Bethel’s boundaries, the Posse has helped the SPCA in Rock Hill, where a canine wedding was held recently – replete with wedding gifts! The fundraising drive brought in nearly $15,000, an incredibly useful sum for the small nonprofit.

District 1 Legislator Scott Samuelson is one of the members, and he’s deeply grateful the Posse is so locally focused.

“Not only does Bethel benefit from these gentlemen’s philanthropy, but we get to call them neighbors and friends,” he notes. “They’ve impacted many, many lives for the better, without asking for anything in return. Amidst our rural, economically challenging environment, their efforts continue to make an immediate and significant difference.”

Scott and his fellow legislators proudly awarded the Posse the Legislature’s Distinguished Citizen Award today, in recognition of the their ongoing charity.

Doug Phillips, a founding member and the “Undersheriff” of the Posse, accepted the award on the group’s behalf, telling listeners that the men’s mission is simple: “Good people should do good things for good people.”

Soon, they’ll gather once more in Bethel to discuss politics, sports, personalities and the next worthy cause.

“They could be in the midst of million-dollar deals, and they’ll still say, ‘I’ll be there,’” Allan marvels. “When dollars are needed, we respond.”

“It is social,” acknowledges Dan, “but the object is to do whatever good we can for the community.”

The Posse includes, from the left, Doug Phillips, David Steinberg, Harold “Hal” Wachtel, Ron Burakoff, Scott Samuelson, Larry Belling, Steve Rubin and Allan Abramson. Not pictured are Carlos Berger, Andrew Gold, Dan Silna, Hal Teitelbaum, Gary Borer, Richard Gebel, Howard Hirsch, Peter Scaturro, Arthur Sinensky, Paul Stark and Ken Steinglass.

Bethel artist and Posse “Deputy” Paul Stark handcarved this magnificent eagle which, thanks to the generosity of the Posse, now soars outside the Bethel Town Hall in White Lake.

Posse “Undersheriff” Doug Phillips (holding certificate) accepted the Sullivan County Legislature’s Distinguished Citizen Award on behalf of his fellow “deputies.” From the left are Legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez, Deputy County Manager Dan Depew, legislators Mark McCarthy, Joe Perrello and Ira Steingart, Doug Phillips, legislators Alan Sorensen, Scott Samuelson and Terri Ward, Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm, Legislator Nadia Rajsz, Bethel Local Development Committee’s Chris Cunningham and County Manager Josh Potosek.