Nassau Board of Ethics seeks to replace counsel in ethics inquiry

Nassau Board of Ethics seeks to replace counsel in ethics inquiry
Steven Leventhal at a Manorhaven ethics board meeting. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

The ethics of the attorney who counsels the Nassau County Board of Ethics is under question.

Lawyer Steven Leventhal was sanctioned for his performance during a 2017 court case and did not indicate as such when his contract with the county board was extended that year, though the form only asks for disclosures “with respect to any professional license,” according to Newsday. The 2017 incident was never reported to the New York Attorney Grievance Committee, so Leventhal’s law license was not affected, the newpaper said.

The county inspector general’s office brought the disclosure issue to light after reviewing documents and as a result, the Board of Ethics has opened a new request for proposals to seek a new counsel, said Christine Geed, a spokeswoman for County Executive Laura Curran.

Inspector General Jodi Franzese declined to comment because the matter is pending.

Leventhal, a partner at Roslyn’s Leventhal, Mullaney & Blinkoff, said he could not comment but “was fully ethical in meeting my obligations to the county.”

According to Newsday, Leventhal’s sanction was for “frivolous, obstructionist behavior” during a case he worked on as Muttontown village attorney. State Supreme Court Justice James McCormack sanctioned and fined Leventhal but did not report the event to New York’s Attorney Grievance Committee, Newsday reported.

Six months later, Leventhal’s contract was extended after he checked “no” in response to a question asking “In the past five years, have you or any business, or any other affiliated business… had any sanction imposed as a result of judicial or administrative proceedings with respect to an professional license held?,” Newsday said.

The county has requested an explanation from Leventhal, Geed said.

“It’s our expectation that he’s going to respond and submit the information that was requested,” she said.

Three members of the county Board of Ethics declined to comment and the other two did not respond to requests for comment.

“Based on concerns by the Inspector General’s office, Nassau County is following procedures outlined in its procurement manual,” Geed said.

Leventhal is also counsel for the Village of Manorhaven Board of Ethics after being the village attorney for two years.

“Leventhal is one of the finest individuals I have ever met. It’s hard to believe any of these claims could be proven true,” said Mayor Jim Avena. “I look forward to him clearing the record.”

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