Joe Geraci resigns as assistant to North Hempstead Building commissioner

Joe Geraci resigns as assistant to North Hempstead Building commissioner
Joe Geraci resigned from the Town of North Hempstead Building Department in November. (Photo courtesy of the supervisor's office)

Joe Geraci, the assistant to the building commissioner in North Hempstead, resigned earlier this month. 

The seven-member town board approved Geraci’s resignation during the Nov. 14 board meeting. Geraci began working for the town in 2008 and previously served as acting highway superintendent and deputy public works commissioner. His annual salary was $133,352, according to town records. 

Geraci was named in an investigation earlier this year that probed a workplace retaliation complaint against Building Commissioner John Niewender. The independent investigation, conducted by law firm Lamb & Barnosky LLP, found that Niewender and Geraci reprimanded inspector Paul Vetere, who filed the complaint, for “bashing” them to other employees in an August 2022 meeting, Newsday said. 

Niewender was suspended for one month without pay and returned to work in July, Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said earlier this year. DeSena’s office declined to comment on the resignation. 

Thomas McDonough, safety coordinator and president of North Hempstead’s CSEA Unit 7555, which represented Geraci, said this week that Geraci was retiring in the near future and that this had nothing to do with the previous investigation. McDonough added that the union filed for arbitration with the town over any disciplinary action against Geraci.

“He was already retiring and leaving,” McDonough told Blank Slate Media. “It had nothing to do with that at all.”

Geraci’s resignation leaves another top official spot vacant in North Hempstead. Currently, the town is without a full-time comptroller after Kristen Schwaner resigned in August and two deputy comptrollers, who resigned earlier this year and in January 2021. Moira La Barbera, the town’s ex-director of purchasing, also resigned in August. 

The current deputy Building Department commissioner is Glenn Norjen.

The Building Department is currently undergoing an audit by Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Philips, which began last year and is expected to be finished in either December or early January. 

In 2007, five Building department officials were indicted after a 16-month investigation by then Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice for receiving favors and payments in exchange for granting permits without inspections.

All five were later convicted, including former Commissioner David Wasserman, who was sentenced to one year in jail in 2008 after pleading guilty to grand larceny and falsifying business records.

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