The Nassau County Legislative Majority will keep Inspector General Jodi Franzese in her position until at least the end of 2023 and her future status will be determined by a new group of legislators, officials announced.
Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) told Newsday that the Majority will leave Franzese, the only one to be elected to the position in county history, until year’s end. Nicolello, who announced he will not be running for re-election last week, said the legislators who are elected this November will be the ones determining her status as inspector general.
Franzese has been serving in her capacity as a holdover since her four-year appointment expired at the beginning of the year, officials told the newspaper.
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) expressed concerns with a report mentioning the county’s checkered past involving corruption. He stressed the importance of having a non-partisan official serve as inspector general.
“With Nassau County’s disturbing history of corruption, it is unfathomable that anyone would think it is wise to undermine the Inspector General’s Office, which was created for the sole purpose of preventing future scandals,” Abrahams said in a statement. “The Minority Caucus is not willing to accept the risk of a return to the waste, fraud, and abuse of the past. It is time to end the gamesmanship, reappoint the inspector general, and fully commit to the independence of Nassau County’s public integrity watchdog.”
Franzese, a Massapequa resident who previously served as senior inspector general for the New York City Department of Investigations, was appointed to serve as Nassau’s first inspector general in 2019. Abrahams had said earlier the office was established after Democratic legislators refused to authorize any bonds for capital projects for the last 2 1/2 in a push to establish the position.
The position was created following the arrest of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano in a political corruption scheme that he was ultimately found guilty of.
Mangano’s conviction is based on a deal he made with Harendra Singh, a restaurateur on Long Island and a star witness in the trial, in which Singh kicked back money and personal benefits in return for the county executive pushing the Town of Oyster Bay to authorize loans for Singh, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The inspector general’s role, according to county officials, includes conducting “the review, investigation, examination and audit” of all the county’s dealings. Both Nicolello and Abrahams were members of the bipartisan search committee that reviewed almost 25 resumes and conducted interviews.
Abrahams, at the time, lauded Franzese for her management experience, her questions of detail in regards to the funding of the new office, as well as the several cases she worked on in her current position that led to better practices in New York City.