The convictions of Senator Dean Skelos, his son Adam, and ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke were the initial rounds in the feds crusade to drain Long Island’s political cesspool.
In Suffolk, the county’s Conservative Party chairman, Edward Walsh, is presently on trial for allegedly collecting up to $200,000 by falsely stating he was performing his duties as a county jailhouse lieutenant while playing golf, handling political matters or gambling.
The feds are investigating Suffolk’s D.A. Tom Spota, for allegedly “thwarting” an investigation of Walsh’s activities. Don’t be surprised if the U.S. Attorney goes after Spota for obstruction of justice.
Another target is Spota’s chief deputy, Christopher McPartland for allegedly being part of the cover-up to shield James Burke.
As for Nassau County: During the Skelos trial we learned from the defense lawyer that County Executive Ed Mangano “asserted Fifth Amendment privilege, and the government is not prepared to immunize him.”
Mangano’s first deputy, Rob Walker— who moved his office out of County Hall and may not be speaking to his boss — testified that he invoked his Fifth Amendment right, received immunity, and admitted that the feds are investigating him for allegedly awarding County contracts to vendors who gave campaign contributions.
In February, Nassau Comptroller George Maragos revealed that the U.S. attorney subpoenaed records for Friends of Nassau County Recreation, a private not-for-profit created in 1980 to benefit the parks department.
A county audit by Maragos in 2013 indicated that Friends bookkeeping was so bad the auditors could not determine if money is missing.
A recent IRS tax return revealed Friends raised $1.7 million and retained a bank balance of $361 thousand. And get this: there were no explanations for $947,0000 in expenses.
When Comptroller Maragos discovered this financial mess in 2013, why didn’t he report it to the D.A. or the state Attorney General?
Was Maragos told to sit on the findings or was he afraid to blow the whistle, or is he just incompetent?
Then there’s the case against Nassau’s presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, Norma Gonsalves.
In December, state Board of Elections attorney Lisa Sugarman charged Gonsalves of eight instances of failing to file disclosure reports between 2006-2016. She was also accused of not filing reports on time “on at least 24 occasions.” The Friends of Norma Gonsalves Committee not only failed to file a list of political donors, the Committee, Newsday reported “was a previously unregistered campaign committee [Gonsalves] controls.”
Although Gonsalves made “a good-faith effort to correct the violations” after they were disclosed to the public, the Board of Elections in February filed a lawsuit against her for “failing to file eight mandatory financial campaign disclosure reports between 2013 and 2015.”
In this age of transparency, how can a senior elected official — who recently voted herself a big raise — forget to file donation reports?
There is no excuse for such behavior. But, in Nassau, pleading ignorance or forgetfulness is business as usual.
Nassau County Community College also appears to be in disarray.
After being resoundingly defeated in last years D.A. race, Kate Murray received a consolation prize in January — she was named the college’s acting general counsel for $150 thousand a year even though she was not qualified for the post.
Trustee Anthony Cornachio, who never met Murray and didn’t know her first name, claimed she was a “dynamo” when placing her name in nomination.
During the board meeting, Cornachio and two other trustees, Edward Powers and John DeGrace, failed to disclose that they donated $9,200 collectively to Friends of Kate Murray between March 2007 and April 2015.
Murray was hired without being interviewed. How can that be?
Were the trustees told what to do? Are they incompetent? Or are they dopes?
This kind of behavior may help explain why the former acting college president, Kenneth Saunders, turned down a full-time offer from the trustees last week.
I hope the D.A. is looking into this community college mess.
Stay tuned — there will be more to come on corruption and incompetence in my next column.