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Psychologist claims sunglasses slam exploits diability to defame him

Brooklyn Daily

The owner of a Brighton Beach drug rehabilitation clinic lashed out at Community Board 15 chairwoman and Council candidate Theresa Scavo, saying she’s exploiting his disability to frustrate his plans to relocate the practice to Sheepshead Bay.

“For god’s sake, she has the right to her own opinion, but I want to have peace and I don’t want people to use my disability as something I should be punished for,” said Igor Beregnoi, a psychologist and owner of the First Steps to Recovery substance-abuse treatment center.

Scavo, who has been trying to block Beregnoi’s attempt open a clinic in an apartment building on E. 21st Street, was quoted in a neighborhood blog saying that the psychologist showed disrespect at a meeting with her and assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz by declining to remove his sunglasses.

In a letter to Scavo and Cymbrowitz, Beregnoi, who must wear the prescription sunglasses to sheild his eyes from daylight due to a medical condition, accuses the politicians of using his disability to impugn his character in her effort to derail his relocation plans.

“I understand why they did it,” he said. “I’m a psychologist.”

“You saw his attitude here,” the Sheepshead Bites quoted Scavo as saying Dec. 10, “with the dark sunglasses, that’s how he came to a meeting trying to ask us to support, sitting there with those dark sunglasses and he wouldn’t even take them off during the meeting.”

In fact, Beregnoi has to wear the sunglasses because he suffers from photophobia and blepharitis — sensitivity to light and dry eye, respectively — after a flash-bang grenade injured him during combat while serving with the Soviet Marines in Vietnam in 1986. A flash-bang grenade a non-lethal explosive device designed to disable combatants by producing a blinding light and deafening bang.

The condition is a constant source of irritation and pain to Beregnoi, mitigated only by the prescription sunglasses he wears up to 12 hours a day.

“I have physical pain, like there’s sand in my eyes,” he said. “It’s a very painful experience.”

Beregnoi says he informed Scavo about his condition at a meeting roughly a year ago, but Scavo said she was not aware of Beregnoi’s condition and that if he did inform her of it, she doesn’t recall.

Scavo claims that Beregnoi was disrespectful in other ways and that he stormed out of Cymbrowitz’s office during last year’s meeting after calling them both liars.

“I can’t speak for Steve,” said Scavo, “but I took it for total disrespect. He asked for a meeting to bring in a drug rehab that he’s going to be in charge of, he asked me to meet with him and give him approval, and he’s going to be rude like that?”

By bringing the issue of his disability to the media, Beregnoi is merely trying to distract attention away from the real controversy, according to Scavo, which is his plan to open a drug rehab clinic in an apartment building on E. 21st Street between Jerome and Voorhies avenues.

“He’s using this to side-step the issue,” she said.

But Beregnoi is adamant that he feels shamed by the chairwoman’s comments, and says that if she continues attacking him along those lines, he’ll be forced to file a report of a disability hate crime with the city’s Human Rights Commission.

“While I have asked them to refrain from escalating what is already an embarrassing situation for me, I did feel that I could not let this behavior, hopefully based on forgetfulness and not malice, continue unchecked,” Beregnoi wrote in the letter he sent to Scavo.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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Evan from Brighton Beach says:
Theresa Scavo and assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz forget that officials represent the public. So called "disrespect" even if true does not remove their obligation to act as representatives and in the public interest. They are not kings, "granting" something to a petitioner who muct grovel for a "favor". Really.
A representative might not like a particular person. That gives the rep the right to not invite him to their home. Nothing else.
Aug. 2, 2013, 10:39 am
vintagejames from madison says:
His problems are one thing, which have nothing to do with the issue. Having a drug rehabilitation clinic in an apartment unit in a residential neighborhood is quite another.
If this is allowed, there goes the neighborhood!
Aug. 2, 2013, 1:16 pm
allan feinblum from midwood says:
When Scavo earned her living as a teacher wearing glasses in class might cause rebuke , but a free citizen is allowed to speak and appear with sun glasses or not. Thersa wants our vote for the City council but has no knowledge of the criminal justice system when she tells me while campaigning at the AVE M STATION ALL BUILDINGS ON RIKERS ISLAND ARE AIR CONDITIONED AND CORRECTION OFFICERS DO NOT NEED CONSTANT DRRINKING WATER AND ICE APPLICATIONS FROM PASSING OUT. SHE SAYS CRIME IS DOWN SO HER CONCERNS IS PEOPLE PARKING IN HER DRIVEWAY OR SCHOOL LIGHT CROSSING IN HER NEIGHBORHOOD. NONE OF THE CANDIDATES HAVE SAID THEY WOULD ELIMINATE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR MENTALLY ILL OR YOUNG INMATES . WOULD ANY OF THE CANDIDATES WORKK WITH COUNCIL MEMBERS FROM CROWN HEIGHTS, BED STUY IOR BROWNSVILLE TO END RACISM?
Aug. 2, 2013, 5:26 pm
Mickey from midwood says:
Never knew the Soviets had troops in Vietnam before reading this. Thanks to Scavo, I learned something
Aug. 2, 2013, 5:41 pm
Tanya from Brighton Beach says:
Let’s go back to the story. At the same meeting where Mr. Beregnoi request was voted down, the other application for a real drug treatment center was approved by the same CB 15 with Scavo blessing. The “good guy” was trying to get a permit from CB 11 but was shown the door. I live on Brighton 12 where Berengoi’s office was located for years and have never heard about Mr. Bergnoi practice, so it was no problems. The other facilities approved and welcome by Scavo will be located in residential area (Kingshiway and East 19 street) and Scavo was not worried despite residents protest. It seems to me that the whole story is not about community but about abuse of power. BTW Berengnoi clinic does not serve any criminals or DUI patients; it is for elderly people who have problems with painkillers and other prescription drugs (see stories on Sheepshead Bites). We already have “king Cymbrowitz”. Do we need “queen Scavo”?
To Mickey: Soviets had troops in Vietnam, Korea, Egypt and many other countries for years. They were called military consultants
Aug. 2, 2013, 9:37 pm
David from midwood says:
I was at this meeting. This doctor was rude, very unpolite, his terrible attitude make a lot people very upset. LHe though he is the King and he allow to treat the people like garbage.
Did u check his client s.?
The people who is depressed because they didn't speak english.stop blaim everybody but
themself.
Aug. 3, 2013, 11:35 pm
vivi from Manhattan beach says:
she said that every one has a right to remembrance on the holocaust (referring to gays and lesbians being buried in a memorial) which is sacred the jews that have values but has no respect to a person with disability a total disregard to people of her district what kind of council women will she be i guess someone who is busy only with gays and lesbians my vote goes to igor oberman a real man of values we need igor
Aug. 7, 2013, 8:25 pm

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