State AG mum on town Dems’ call for probe into officer’s hiring

State AG mum on town Dems’ call for probe into officer’s hiring
Council Member Veronica Lurvey points to a section of town code on the steps of North Hempstead Town Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 10. (Photo by Karina Kovac)

The state attorney general’s office has not yet responded to a request by North Hempstead Democrats to look into the alleged misuse of taxpayer funds by Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena.

Council Members Peter Zuckerman, Veronica Lurvey and Mariann Dalimonte sent a letter to state Attorney General Letitia James’ office in October calling for an investigation into  potential misconduct in DeSena’s hiring of Brian J. Davis as a hearing officer for a town personnel matter. 

Davis, an attorney with a solo practice in Garden City, was the hearing officer during an investigation following harassment and retaliation complaints against North Hempstead Deputy Supervisor Joseph Scalero. 

In the letter, Democrats said Davis’ hiring and the subsequent hourly rate he was paid did not follow the town’s procurement policy. But DeSena had previously told Blank Slate Media that hiring Davis did not need town board approval because personnel matters follow a different process that is not under the town board’s jurisdiction

The North Hempstead Democrats acted after Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Philips’ office declined to look into the matter, saying in a letter to the officials that the issues described would be more appropriately addressed by the town’s comptroller’s office. 

Davis was hired as the hearing officer by DeSena in December last year after an outside law firm investigated the matter and recommended it go to a formal hearing. 

Town Attorney John Chiara filed an equal employment opportunity complaint against Scalero on behalf of Moira LaBarbera–the town’s ex-director of purchasing–in July 2022, according to town documents.

Davis cleared Scalero earlier this year in the probe, a finding that LaBarbera disagreed with and said in her resignation letter to DeSena this summer she could not accept.

“I can no longer work in this hostile and retaliatory environment perpetuated by both you and the Town,” LaBarbera wrote to DeSena in July when she resigned, according to Newsday.

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