Ex town official linked to Gerard Terry’s alleged front company

Ex town official linked to Gerard Terry’s alleged front company
North Hempstead Town Hall will be the subject of elevator repairs. (Photo by Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons)

Jonathan P. Fielding, a Town of North Hempstead zoning official until this week, helped Gerard Terry, an indicted Democratic political operative, create a company that Terry allegedly used as a front to hide income from the Internal Revenue Service, documents show.

Fielding, who was secretary to the Board of Zoning Appeals, no longer worked for the town as of Tuesday, a town spokeswoman said. He indicated that he had been forced out.

Fielding’s departure coincided with questions posed by Blank Slate Media to the town about his relationship to Terry’s company.

It also comes two weeks after Terry, the former North Hempstead Democratic Committee chairman who worked as the zoning board’s attorney, was arrested on federal tax evasion charges for allegedly failing to pay nearly $1 million in income taxes.

Fielding in 2010 filed documents to incorporate a company, Neville Warwick LLC, that a federal indictment says Terry used to hide income from IRS tax collectors.

State corporation records list Fielding as the recipient of correspondence for the company and list as its address a Mineola law office where he has practiced.

But Fielding’s role did not extend beyond preparing documents to organize the company, and he did not know for what purpose it would be used, he said in an interview.

“I’ve never seen a bank statement or any other corporate minutes or anything else, or any other documents related to the LLC, since that organization seven years ago,” Fielding said.

Terry and Fielding have a professional relationship that goes back to at least September 2008, when they served as Manorhaven’s village attorney and deputy village attorney, respectively.

Fielding took the town zoning board job four days after he was officially replaced as the clerk-treasurer in the Village of Manorhaven in July 2012. Terry’s tenure as the village attorney also ended that month.

Manorhaven has received two subpoenas from the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office relating to Terry — one in 2016 and another in 2007 — and a separate federal subpoena from 2015 investigating contracts with eight village vendors, according to documents obtained by Blank Slate Media.

Fielding ended his work as the village’s clerk and treasurer at a time when, former village officials said, scores of village records were found destroyed or missing at the start of then-Mayor Giovana Giunta’s new administration.

Fielding denied that any records were destroyed or removed.

He was hired as the town zoning board secretary on July 30, 2012, and was most recently paid a town salary of $105,137, Carole Trottere, a town spokeswoman, said in an email.

He worked with Terry until the town ceased its working relationship with Terry last year after revelations about his tax debt.

Fielding’s duties included researching zoning appeals applications, meeting with applicants, writing meeting minutes and preparing board decisions, he said.

Fielding said he had “no intention” of leaving his job at the town. His wife and four children depended on the income and health insurance it provided, he said.

“It’s a great blow to me and my family to lose my livelihood,” Fielding said.

Trottere would not say whether Fielding was fired or left voluntarily, or whether his connection to Terry played a role in his departure.

“We do not comment on personnel issues,” Trottere said in a statement.

Fielding’s departure came the same day that Stephen Scaring, Terry’s Garden City-based attorney, asked U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert to change Terry’s bail conditions so that he is no longer confined to his Roslyn Heights home.

Home detention is having an “adverse impact … on Mr. Terry’s law practice, and his ability to earn a living,” Scaring wrote in a court filing Tuesday.

Scaring did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Terry pleaded not guilty Jan. 31 to federal charges of tax evasion and obstruction of the IRS for failing to file on-time income tax returns since 2000 and lying about his income on returns he filed late, despite making at least $200,000 annually, mostly from taxpayer-funded jobs with Nassau County municipalities.

Terry has also pleaded not guilty to eight charges of tax fraud brought in New York State courts.

He is also under federal investigation for his role in “kickback, bid rigging and other procurement fraud schemes in Nassau County,” according to a Jan. 31 court filing.

Terry allegedly deposited income into a corporate checking account for Neville Warwick LLC to avoid the IRS taking payments from his personal bank account toward his tax debt, which totals about $1.4 million, according to federal court filings.

Fielding has not been subpoenaed or interviewed by state or federal investigators, he said.

Nellin McIntosh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, declined to comment on the ongoing federal investigation of Terry.

Neville Warwick was incorporated on July 30, 2010, about three weeks after Fielding was reappointed to a two-year term as Manorhaven village clerk on July 8, according to village meeting minutes.

Terry served alongside him as village attorney until July 2012, when Giunta, then the newly elected mayor, took office and replaced them.

Fielding’s working relationship with Terry only extended to meetings where Terry would address legal questions relevant to the village or the town zoning board, he said.

“I didn’t see him day to day in either capacity because that’s not the nature of the position that he held,” Fielding said.

Giunta and other Manorhaven officials offered to keep Fielding on as village clerk for three months after the new administration took office, said Lucretia Steele, a village trustee at the time.

But he declined the offer and later took the job as the town’s zoning board secretary, Steele said.

“He said, ‘No, I can’t stay, I have my reasons,’” Steele said.

Giunta declined to comment for this story.

But Fielding, in the interview, said Giunta and other new officials planned to replace him all along. He left in early July, he said, but the Board of Trustees did not appoint a new clerk until July 26.

Before he left, he detailed all issues facing the village in a memorandum and attached all relevant documents, he said.

“I did everything that I could for them at the time in the amount of time that I had left,” Fielding said.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas subpoenaed Manorhaven in February 2016 for information about Terry’s jobs with the village; his pay; all of his personnel files; and all financial disclosures he had filed since 2000, according to a copy of the subpoena.

The subpoena came two days after Singas said she would investigate Terry following a Jan. 30 Newsday report that revealed he had a tax debt of more than $1 million despite holding six government jobs paying him more than $200,000 in 2015.

But it was not the first subpoena Manorhaven had received bearing Terry’s name.

An August 2007 subpoena from then-Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice contained similar language, demanding “any and all documents” in Terry’s personnel file, as well as all payroll records and financial disclosure forms related to Terry.

Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for Singas’ office, declined to comment on the focus of the 2007 investigation and what it concluded.

“Because a criminal case is pending against Mr. Terry, I cannot address your question about any other investigation(s) which may have involved this defendant,” Brosh said in a statement.

A spokesman for Rice, now a Democratic U.S. congresswoman, also declined to comment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office separately subpoenaed Manorhaven in January 2015 seeking records related to village contracts with eight people and companies that had been in effect at any point since January 2010, according to a copy of the subpoena.

The listed contractors were Peter Dejana; Dejana Industries, Dejana’s national municipal services company; Aero Snow Removal, a Dejana Industries subsidiary; Anthony Soldano; Port Auto Body Inc.; Louis Tobar; Stephen Blasucci; and his company Port Plumbing and Heating.

McIntosh, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, declined to comment on the subpoena and whether it was related to the investigation of Terry.

Village officials turned over thousands of pages of documents relating to seven of the eight contractors in response to the subpoena, according to a source with direct knowledge of the subpoena who requested anonymity to discuss it.

No records related to Aero Snow Removal could be located, but village officials found “compromised and removed computers, missing minutes and shredded village records” when Giunta’s administration took over in July 2012, then-village Clerk Leslie Gross wrote in a February 2015 letter responding to the subpoena.

Steele, the former village trustee under Giunta, said newly elected officials saw shredded documents “all over the place” when they entered the village office on the first day of their administration.

They also determined at least one whole box of records were missing, Steele said.

But a police report was never filed and no internal investigation was conducted to determine who was responsible, Steele said.

Fielding called the allegations “entirely inaccurate and a fabrication,” and said he had no knowledge of any officials destroying records

Current village Mayor Jim Avena, who was a trustee before Giunta’s administration took over, rejected the accusation and said he was unaware of such a thing ever happening.

“It was never brought to my attention about records being destroyed,” Avena said in an interview.

Avena said he was never questioned in relation to the federal subpoena, and that he is unaware of any other village officials being questioned.

In the time period covered by the subpoena, Dejana Industries had a garbage-removal contract with Manorhaven that officials have said cost the village nearly $100,000 in extra expenses.

Manorhaven-based Dejana Industries won the one-year contract in 2009 at a cost of $563,000, some $94,000 more than the village’s previous contract with Westbury-based Meadow Carting, James Toner, the former village attorney, said in March 2016.

Village bid documents required that the contractor be located within a four-mile radius of the village, making Dejana the only qualified bidder, according to village records.

Such provisions in that and other contracts have cost the village about $1 million, Toner said last year.

Dejana Industries did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Blasucci, who owns Port Plumbing and Heating.

A publicly listed number for Soldano was disconnected.

Someone who answered the phone at Port Auto Body hung up on a reporter’s call.

No contact information for Tobar was publicly available.

Terry has blamed his tax debt on “Type-A workaholic compulsion with self-denial and truly catastrophic health issues.”

He and his wife, Concetta Terry, have had “virtually no current income” since Concetta Terry lost her job last summer as a deputy clerk in North Hempstead, Scaring, Terry’s attorney, wrote in Tuesday’s court filing.

Allowing Terry to leave his home while his case proceeds would allow him to continue his law practice with a focus on private clients, given that he has lost all his government clients, Scaring wrote.

“[W]hile the government is eager to bandy about the notion that Mr. Terry has a secret cache of wealth, prosecutors offer no evidence to support this claim,” Scaring wrote.

A public statement by Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell on Jan. 31 about Terry’s alleged relationship to other corruption investigations was also supported by little evidence and was irrelevant to the crimes with which Terry has been charged, Scaring argued.

There is no indication that Terry has tried to interfere with ongoing criminal investigations, and he is highly unlikely to flee while facing these charges, Scaring wrote.

Stephen Romano contributed reporting.

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