Former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto pleaded guilty to corruption and official misconduct Friday in part for helping the former planning commissioner get $1.6 million in kickbacks from a developer, according to the Nassau County district attorney’s office.
Venditto, 70, a Republican, made the plea as part of a deal that granted him a conditional discharge, exempting him from jail time.
In the last two years he faced two separate cases at the federal and state levels.
The federal prosecution was part of the case that convicted former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda Mangano, of corruption. The state case focused on his complicity and involvement in a rezoning effort from which he knew former Planning Commissioner Frederick Ippolito would benefit and wielding nepotism in a town hiring.
“Today is yet another reminder that for too long our residents have been forced to foot the bill for a culture of corruption that permeated all levels of government in Nassau,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. “Our residents have had it with politicians who preach about fiscal integrity while lining their pockets on the taxpayers’ dime.”
Ippolito earned $1.6 million from a developer that Oyster Bay approved to rezone a property for a $150 million residential complex. Venditto knew about Ippolito’s stake in the application when he voted in favor of it and did not interfere with Ippolito’s access to the application as a supervisor, he said in his plea deal, according to officials.
Ippolito died in 2017 while serving a 27-month prison sentence for tax evasion.
Seperately, Venditto had the town hire the child of the woman he wanted to marry, according to the other indictment. The individual’s hiring was during a period of financial strife in which the town was not adding staff members and the new employee earned more than twice as much as peers, according to the district attorney’s office.
“Our investigation uncovered pervasive corruption in the Town of Oyster Bay where the powerful and connected used the government to benefit themselves at the expense of the taxpayers they were sworn to serve,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “This felony plea by former Town Supervisor Venditto sends a strong message that corruption will not be tolerated in Nassau County and my office will pursue these cases aggressively without fear or favor.”
Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, a Democrat, said this guilty plea is another reason not to elect her Republican opponent, Don Clavin.
“I am fighting the corruption tax that has plagued the Town of Hempstead for decades,” she said in a statement. “The last thing the Town of Hempstead needs is another career politician from the same political playhouse as Ed Mangano, Dean Skelos, Ed Ambrosino and now John Venditto.”
Venditto, of Massapequa, was found not guilty in May 2018 in the federal case, which charged him with federal program bribery alongside Edward Mangano. He served as Oyster Bay Town supervisor for 10 terms before stepping down in January 2017 in the midst of the case.