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DOJ Pushing For Discrimination Settlement Against L.I. Senior Citizens Complex

WOODBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The Department of Justice is jumping into a discrimination case on Long Island. At issue is a senior citizen complex that denied a sick resident from getting a therapy dog.

Jack Biegel's wife of 46 years has been gone for almost five years, yet the way Sandra Biegel left this world still gnaws at her husband.

"There's no words for how I miss her," Jack Biegel told CBS 2's Sean Hennessey. "To this day, I'm sick over it."

Jack Biegel blames Woodbury Gardens for not letting his wife keep a disability dog, which he said helped her with diabetes, breathing and liver problems.

"The doctors told us the dog is like medication for her," he said.

But Biegel said the board wouldn't make an exception. Instead he said it sent eviction letters and fined him.

With their pleas falling on deaf ears and eviction becoming a reality, the couple gave up "Mikey," a dog they had for almost a year. Biegel said his wife quickly worsened.

"I feel without a doubt, that hastened her death," Biegel said.

A month later, Sandra Biegel died. After an investigation, federal housing officials found the co-op "....continued to harass the Biegel family..." And in a federal lawsuit, the Justice Department concluded "....a discriminatory housing practice had occurred."

Attorney Meir Moza said the case is a clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"It's more than an abuse of discretion. I think it's a disgrace," Moza said.

The co-op's attorney told CBS 2's Hennessey, "Were not going to litigate this case through the media."

"A horrific thing happened to me and I feel justice should be done," Jack Biegel said.

Beigel and his attorney said justice is an apology and an assurance this never happens again. The Justice Department said Biegel should be paid for what he went through.

Biegel, Woodbury Gardens and the Justice Department met for a conference at the federal courthouse on Wednesday. A trial date has been set for next year.

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