Jerome Galluscio, who is running as a reform candidate for commissioner of the Garden City Park Fire and Water District, had his license to practice law suspended for two year in July 2007 based on nine charges of judicial misconduct filed by the grievance committee for the Tenth Judicial District in January 2006.
The charges stemming from Galluscio’s practice of matrimonial and custody law included neglect of legal matters he was handling for clients, failing to pay an arbitration award and several instances of failing to respond to the grievance committee’s letters during its investigation of his alleged misconduct in cases between 2001 and 2005.
The grievance committee’s opinion and order against Galluscio issued June 12, 2006 said that he had received letters of admonition about three separate matrimonial cases in June 2003. That document also noted that Galluscio asked the court to consider the “unintentional nature of his conduct,” the fact that clients had been reimbursed for money he owed them and that his delays in responding were due to the disability of his wife.
Galluscio admits that he had failed in his responsibilities and accepted his suspension at the time without contesting it. He has not sought to restore his license since then.
“Eight years ago I was very foolish and did not pay attention to the office duties. It cost me very dearly,” Galluscio said.
He said all of the cases involved were handled during a time in 2001 when he was managing his own independent law practice with a part-time secretary while running an unsuccessful campaign against Town of North Hempstead Councilman Thomas Dwyer for a seat on the town board. Prior to that, he lost in an attempt to challenge Thomas DiNapoli for his state Assembly seat
“I was on my own. I was running for office. I had a lot of balls in the air. I was overwhelmed,” he said.
Galluscio, who is now an aide to the Republican caucus in the Nassau County Legislature, is opposing incumbent Augie Carnevale in the election for Garden City Park Fire and Water District, which will take place Tuesday, Dec. 13.
Calling his opponent a “bully,” Galluscio said Carnevale had initiated the use of a siren for all fire calls during a current month-long test intended to increase the number of volunteers responding to emergency calls.
Gulluscio said the use of the sirens at the Denton Avenue substation is causing problems for nearby residents.
“He’s shown over the years he has no concern for the sentiments of the people in the community,” Galluscio said of Carnevale.
Carnevale said the siren test was Garden City Park Fire Department Chief William Rudnick’s idea.
Galluscio also said the fire and water district needs to become “greener” and cites a missed opportunity in the failure to seek grant money to include a solar panel on the roof of the Garden City Park Fire Department headquarters on Jericho Turnpike when it was built.
“We have one of the largest roofs on the Garden City Park headquarters.
That’s where somebody needs to be aware of what kind of grants are out there,” Galluscio said.
Galluscio concedes that he’s operating at a disadvantage without ties to the Garden City Fire Department. When he was younger, he served as a volunteer in the Centerport Fire Department. Medical issues have prevented him from being a volunteer in recent years.
But Galluscio, 44, is involved in several community organizations, including the Sons of Italy Cellini Lodge and the New Hyde Park Kiwanis Club.
With three children attending school in the Herricks School District, he is an active member of the Herricks PTA, the Herricks Athletic Boosters and an organization for parents of special needs children.
“It’s not like I’ve never given back to my community,” he said.
He has lived with his wife, Michelle, and his three children, Annalisa, Jerome Jr. and Arianna, in New Hyde Park for the past 11 years.
In the case that led to the suspension of Galluscio’s law license, charges enumerated by the grievance committee included:
• Losing court papers while representing Patricia McKenna in a matrimonial matter for a $2,500 fee. After taking the case in October 2001, Galluscio informed his client that he lost the papers in May 2002 after not responding to his client’s repeated telephone inquiries.
• Failing to change his office address and failing to respond to letters from the administrative judge’s office in Queens County regarding fee arbitration McKenna was seeking.
• Failing to cooperate with the grievance committee’s investigation in not responding to letters sent to him in the fall of 2003. Galluscio was subsequently served with a subpoena to appear at the committee’s offices, but persistently made appearances without the legal files he was asked to produce.
• Neglecting a legal matter he had undertaken on behalf of Gina Maria DaRocha for which he took a $2,500 retainer. Galluscio advised DaRocha that her divorce papers had been filed in February 2003. She was subsequently notified by the court in May 2003 that the papers were filed with an incorrect index number and were lost.
• Failing to pay an arbitration award issued by the Nassau County Fee Arbitration panel to DaRocha and then failing to respond to a response to the request for fee arbitration, which ultimately resulted in a $2,500 award to his client.
• Neglecting his representation of Marie Lanci in a matrimonial matter for which he received a $2,000 fee. In July 2003 he told his client that papers would be filed in court and then failed to respond to her inquiries in October 2003. In November 2003, he informed her the papers were in the system, but failed to respond to her inquiries in December 2003 and January 2004 requesting her file after she learned from the court that no papers had been filed.
• Not cooperating withe the committee’s investigation of a complaint filed by Catherine Adamkiewicz. He failed to respond to a letter sent to his home – and returned as “unclaimed” – and failed to respond to letters sent to both his office and home addresses notifying him that his continued non-cooperation would prompt a motion for his interim suspension.
“I did not fight any of the allegations at the time. I thought at the time it was better to not fight the allegations, but just paid the clients back,” Galluscio said. “I own it.”
He said some of the dates the grievance committee cited were incorrect – notably in DaRocha case – but he simply repaid the money and didn’t seek to correct the dates.
With reference to the Lanci case, he said “she was not that aggravated,” but doesn’t deny his culpability.
“I did not follow the laws. I broke them. I’m a lawyer. I should have known better,” he said.
Galluscio said he regrets what he did but said he has learned from his mistakes, and points to his current job for the past four years as an aide to the Republican representatives in the Nassau County Legislature as proof.
“What I do every day here demonstrates that I am able to make decisions,” he said.
Galluscio said he thinks the grievance committee’s judgment against him was “too harsh,” and said his past mistakes as a lawyer don’t have a bearing on whether he’s fit to be a fire and water commissioner.
“Quite candidly, I have learned to adapt and learned to move on and quite competently manage,” he said.