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The Politics of Corruption on Long Island

Criminal cases against 10 politicians and public officials

Over the past few years, prosecutors have charged Long Island politicians and public officials with crimes ranging from tax evasion to bribery. Some of these cases resulted in convictions, while others are ongoing. Follow Newsday’s latest coverage on the most prominent cases here.

(Last updated: Feb. 19, 2018)

The County Executive

Edward Mangano

Charges: Conspiracy to commit federal program bribery; federal program bribery; conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; honest services wire fraud; extortion; conspiracy to obstruct justice

Edward Mangano, Nassau’s county executive, was indicted in October 2016 and accused by federal prosecutors of receiving “bribes and kickbacks” from businessman Harendra Singh, who has pleaded guilty to providing them. Mangano’s wife, Linda, was charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements involving “work she claimed to have performed” in an alleged no-show job from Singh, according to the indictment and prosecutors. Both Manganos pleaded not guilty. Edward Mangano’s trial date is set for January 2018. Linda Mangano has asked for a separate trial.

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The District Attorney

Thomas Spota

Charges:Conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding; witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding; obstruction of justice; accessory after the fact to the deprivation of John Doe’s civil rights

Thomas Spota, the Suffolk County district attorney, was indicted in October 2017 on federal charges that he was involved in a cover-up of ex-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s 2012 assault of a suspect. U.S. attorneys say Spota, along with longtime aide Christopher McPartland, intimidated and pressured witnesses not to cooperate with federal investigators in order to protect Burke. Spota pleaded not guilty to the charges. A day after his plea, he announced he would leave the office he has held since 2002. His last day in office was Nov. 10, 2017.

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The Town Supervisor

John Venditto

Federal charges: Conspiracy to commit federal program bribery; federal program bribery; conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; honest services wire fraud; obstruction of justice; false statements. In a superseding indictment: One count of securities fraud; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to securities offerings; and 19 counts of wire fraud related to securities offerings

State charges: Corrupt use of position or authority; official misconduct; conspiracy; defrauding the government

John Venditto, Oyster Bay supervisor, was indicted on federal charges in October 2016. Venditto pleaded not guilty and resigned in January, and his trial is slated for 2018. In June 2017, the Nassau DA indicted Venditto, who prosecutors said was involved in a real-estate deal and orchestrating a hiring. Venditto pleaded not guilty. A superseding federal indictment was announced Nov. 21 adding 21 charges involving allegations of securities fraud.

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The Councilman

Edward Ambrosino

Charges: Wire fraud; tax evasion; making and subscribing false corporate tax returns; failure to file return

Edward Ambrosino, a Hempstead Town Board councilman, was indicted in March 2017 and accused of failing to pay more than $250,000 in federal taxes on income, much of which federal prosecutors said came from jobs performed for Nassau County. Prosecutors said Ambrosino, a lawyer, siphoned off money for two years to a company he incorporated and underreported his earnings. In the week following Ambrosino’s arrest, the county Industrial Development Agency and Local Economic Assistance Corp. dropped him as one of their attorneys. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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The Police Chief

James Burke

Convicted of: Deprivation of civil rights; conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice

James Burke, the Suffolk County Police Department’s former top uniformed officer, was indicted in December 2015 and charged by federal prosecutors with orchestrating an elaborate scheme to conceal his own crime. Burke, who was named Suffolk police chief in 2012, beat a handcuffed prisoner who had been charged with stealing a duffel bag from Burke’s police-issued vehicle, officials said. Burke pleaded guilty in February 2016 to conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and violating the victim’s civil rights and was sentenced in November 2016 to 46 months in prison. Burke has filed papers to appeal his sentence.

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The State Senator

Dean Skelos

Charges: Conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right; conspiracy to commit honest services fraud; extortion under color of official right; solicitation of bribes and gratuities

Dean Skelos, former Republican State Senate majority leader, was convicted in December 2015 of using his power to help his son, Adam, get jobs and payments from businesses. Federal prosecutors said the senator pressured three companies to give jobs, fees and benefits worth $300,000 to Adam, doing favors in Albany for the companies in return. He also intervened with Nassau County to help one of them on a contract, prosecutors said. His son was indicted on the same charges. In May 2016, Skelos was sentenced to 5 years, and his son was sentenced to 6½. In September 2017, an appeals court overturned the convictions. A retrial is set for June 2018.

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The Conservative party leader

Edward Walsh

Convicted of: Converts to own use property of another; fraud by wire, radio or television

Edward Walsh, then a lieutenant in the county sheriff’s office, golfed, gambled and politicked on the county’s dime, federal prosecutors said, while at the helm of Suffolk County’s Conservative Party. Walsh pleaded not guilty in March 2015 but was convicted in March 2016 for illegally collecting more than $200,000 in pay and overtime pay he didn’t earn. His conviction sparked a battle over leadership within the party he once led. In June 2017, Walsh was sentenced to 2 years in prison and was ordered to make $245,811.21 in restitution and forfeit an additional $245,811.21.

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The Town Commissioner

Frederick Ippolito

Federal charges: Attempt to evade or defeat tax

State charges: Money laundering; defrauding the government; official misconduct; bribe receiving; receiving reward for official misconduct; theft of services.

Frederick Ippolito, an Oyster Bay town official, pleaded guilty in January 2016 to a federal tax evasion charge in connection with $2 million in outside consulting fees he received while working as the town’s planning and development commissioner. He resigned two days after his plea. He was sentenced in September 2016 to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay $550,000 in restitution. Ippolito died in prison in June 2017. On Dec. 12, 2017, a federal appellate court vacated the conviction because he died while appealing his conviction. In June 2017, Ippolito was charged by Nassau County prosecutors; a judge ended that case in September 2017.

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The Town Democratic leader

Gerard Terry

Convicted of: Felony tax fraud (state), tax evasion (federal)

Charges: Tax fraud (state); tax evasion (federal)

Gerard Terry, the former North Hempstead Democratic Party leader, was charged in April and August 2016 with tax fraud after Nassau prosecutors said he compiled more than $1.4 million in tax debts while receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in government work. He also was charged federally in February 2017 and pleaded not guilty. He resigned or was terminated from multiple public positions. In September 2017, Terry pleaded guilty in Nassau County to fourth-degree felony tax fraud. The judge set a sentencing hearing for November 2017. Terry pleaded guilty in October 2017 in federal court to tax evasion. He is scheduled to be sentenced in that case in February 2018.

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The District Attorney’s Aide

Christopher McPartland

Charges: Conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding; witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding; obstruction of justice; accessory after the fact to the deprivation of John Doe’s civil rights

Christopher McPartland, one of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s chief aides, who ran the office’s political corruption unit, was indicted along with Spota in October 2017 on federal charges related to allegations the two were involved in a cover-up of ex-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s assault of a suspect. McPartland pleaded not guilty to the charges. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said McPartland since has been reassigned “to duties unrelated to his former responsibilities.”

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Producer: Heather Doyle

Designer: James Stewart

Photo credits: James Carbone, Charles Eckert, Ed Betz and Howard Schnapp

The Politics of Corruption: John Venditto

Ex-Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto

John Venditto

Federal charges: Conspiracy to commit federal program bribery; federal program bribery; conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; honest services wire fraud; obstruction of justice; false statements. In a superseding indictment: One count of securities fraud; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to securities offerings; and 19 counts of wire fraud related to securities offerings

State charges: Corrupt use of position or authority; official misconduct; conspiracy; defrauding the government

John Venditto, Oyster Bay supervisor, was indicted on federal charges in October 2016. Venditto pleaded not guilty and resigned in January, and his trial is slated for 2018. In June 2017, the Nassau DA indicted Venditto, who prosecutors said was involved in a real-estate deal and orchestrating a hiring. Venditto pleaded not guilty. A superseding federal indictment was announced Nov. 21 adding 21 charges involving allegations of securities fraud.

The latest on the Venditto case

Feb. 19, 2018: Records: Figure in Mangano-Venditto case wore wire Feb. 10, 2018: Harendra Singh repeatedly sought City Hall’s help, documents show Feb. 9, 2018: Judge in Mangano, Venditto corruption case rejects all defense motions Feb. 7, 2018: Mangano, Venditto schemed at meeting to guarantee loans, feds allege Feb. 8, 2018: Opinion: Stop the decline of the Nassau GOP Feb. 7, 2018: Judge sets jury selection date for Mangano-Venditto corruption trial Feb. 3, 2018: Brown: In Nassau corruption cases, the witness list begins to take shape Jan. 27, 2018: Democrat-connected law firm involved in Oyster Bay deals Jan. 24, 2018: Filler: Secret plea’s odd surprise about Mangano, Venditto Jan. 24, 2018: Harendra Singh admits bribing Mangano, Venditto Jan. 24, 2018: Singh bribery case also involves unnamed NYC official Jan. 24, 2018: Timeline of Harendra Singh’s ties to Mangano, Venditto Jan. 24, 2018: Singh admits bribing Mangano, Venditto, NYC official Jan. 17, 2018: Feds turn over documents, materials in Mangano-Venditto case Jan. 14, 2018: Lawyers for Manganos and Venditto file flurry of pretrial motions Jan. 13, 2018: In FBI notes, a glimpse of friendship at heart of Mangano case Dec. 16, 2017: Legal papers show Oyster Bay strategy for Singh loan guarantees Dec. 5, 2017: Judge delays Edward Mangano, John Venditto trial for two months Nov. 30, 2017: John Venditto seeks delay in trial on kickback allegations Nov. 28, 2017: Oyster Bay Town seeks buyer for property in alleged bribery scheme Nov. 22, 2017: Brown: Unusual resolution at center of new charges against John Venditto Nov. 21, 2017: John Venditto indicted on charges involving securities fraud Nov. 21, 2017: John Venditto, ex-Oyster Bay town supervisor, charged by SEC Nov. 15, 2017: Scheme to help restaurateur began when Mangano took office, court filing says Nov. 15, 2017: Oyster Bay legal bills related to Singh cases top $3.3M Oct. 21, 2017: Brown: Nepotism in Nassau are the family ties that bind Oct. 17, 2017: Keep a spotlight on nepotism in Long Island government Oct. 14, 2017: Over 100 Nassau politicians also have family in government Sept. 27, 2017: Judge abates corruption charges against the late Fred Ippolito Sept. 27, 2017: Brown: Will Skelos’ overturned conviction affect Mangano, Venditto? Sept. 5, 2017: Venditto court papers seek dismissal of corruption charges Sept. 2, 2017: Oyster Bay ex-commissioner still influenced town, affidavit says Aug. 25, 2017: Mangano files motion seeking to dismiss federal corruption charges Aug. 3, 2017: Oyster Bay Dems: 11.5% tax levy increase pays for ‘corruption’ July 26, 2017: Nassau DA fires investigator for alleged corruption probe interference, sources say July 22, 2017: Brown: Nassau has reform fever in election year July 15, 2017: Brown: Oyster Bay proposes reform after reform June 29, 2017: Oyster Bay corruption indictments add to federal tax case June 29, 2017: Ex-Oyster Bay supervisor, others surrender at DA’s office June 28, 2017: Sources: Oyster Bay officials to be arraigned June 28, 2017: Filler: How Saladino can shed party’s legacy June 27, 2017: Sources: Several indicted in Oyster Bay corruption probe June 19, 2017: Town agrees to work with probe in order to borrow $50M June 19, 2017: Town agrees to work with probe in order to borrow $50M June 1, 2017: Judge rules in Harendra Singh $6 million loan guarantee suit May 27, 2017: Brown: Saladino promises transparency but doesn’t answer question May 8, 2017: Stampede of elected officials running toward reform April 6, 2017: Oyster Bay Town OKs $1M in concession rental contracts April 1, 2017: Brown: Investigations of LI public officials underway March 12, 2017: Oyster Bay supervisor wants to review town board liaison system March 11, 2017: Marc Herman likely Dem choice to run for Oyster Bay supervisor, chairman says March 7, 2017: Dems likely to pick attorney Laura Gillen as Hempstead supervisor candidate March 6, 2017: Brown: The horse often escapes the ethics barn on LI Feb. 28, 2017: New five-member ethics board named in Oyster Bay Feb. 22, 2017: Nassau DA wiretapped 3 former Oyster Bay officials, sources say Feb. 12, 2017: Indicted concessionaire owes Oyster Bay nearly $300,000 Feb. 10, 2017: Nassau grand jury probing Oyster Bay corruption, sources say Feb. 8, 2017: Venditto, Mangano corruption trial date set for 2018 Feb. 7, 2017: Oyster Bay changes borrowing procedures to comply with laws Jan. 31, 2017: Assemb. Joseph Saladino replaces John Venditto as Oyster Bay town supervisor Jan. 17, 2017: John Venditto campaign got $20,000 in contributions after arrest, records show Jan. 16, 2017: Letter: Keep supervisor’s name off town signs Jan. 14, 2017: Federal bribery trial for Harendra Singh indefinitely delayed Jan. 4, 2017: John Venditto: Another powerful supervisor in disgrace Jan. 4, 2017: Indicted Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto to resign Nov. 29, 2016: Oyster Bay supervisor John Venditto presides over meeting, with no news of future Nov. 15, 2016: Oyster Bay’s Venditto will decide in days whether to step down Nov. 13, 2016: Joseph Mondello talks about Nassau corruption cases Nov. 12, 2016: Nassau County sought OK of contract for Harendra Singh’s wife Nov. 12, 2016: Venditto scandal impacts State Senate race Oct. 20, 2016: Edward Mangano and John Venditto should resign Oct. 24, 2016: Lawyer: Federal charges vs. Venditto will not impact town lawsuits Oct. 23, 2016: Oyster Bay has no deputy supervisor in place if need arises Oct. 20, 2016: GOP candidates urge Mangano, Venditto to immediately resign Oct. 20, 2016: Mangano, Venditto arrested on corruption charges, Feds say Sept. 28, 2016: Federal judge reveals what Oyster Bay officials haven’t Sept. 1, 2016: Venditto says Oyster Bay to turn over documents sought by feds
Other LI officials charged with abuse of power

The Politics of Corruption: Ed Mangano

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano

Edward Mangano

Charges: Conspiracy to commit federal program bribery; federal program bribery; conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; honest services wire fraud; extortion; conspiracy to obstruct justice

Edward Mangano, Nassau’s county executive, was indicted in October 2016 and accused by federal prosecutors of receiving “bribes and kickbacks” from businessman Harendra Singh, who has pleaded guilty to providing them. Mangano’s wife, Linda, was charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements involving “work she claimed to have performed” in an alleged no-show job from Singh, according to the indictment and prosecutors. Both Manganos pleaded not guilty. Edward Mangano’s trial date is set for January 2018. Linda Mangano has asked for a separate trial.

The latest on the Mangano case

Feb. 19, 2018: Records: Figure in Mangano-Venditto case wore wire Feb. 10, 2018: Harendra Singh repeatedly sought City Hall’s help, documents show Feb. 9, 2018: Judge in Mangano corruption case rejects all defense motions Feb. 7, 2018: Mangano, Venditto schemed at meeting to guarantee loans, feds allege Feb. 8, 2018: Opinion: Stop the decline of the Nassau GOP Feb. 7, 2018: Jury selection date set for Mangano-Venditto trial Feb. 3, 2018: In Nassau corruption cases, the witness list begins to take shape Jan. 30, 2018: Claiming ‘selective prosecution,’ Mangano wants indictment dismissed Jan. 24, 2018: Singh admits bribing Mangano, Venditto, NYC official Jan. 17, 2018: Feds turn over documents, materials in Mangano-Venditto case Jan. 14, 2018: Lawyers for Manganos and Venditto file flurry of pretrial motions Dec. 5, 2017: Judge delays Edward Mangano, John Venditto trial for two months Nov. 30, 2017: John Venditto, Edward Mangano ask for delay in corruption case Nov. 21, 2017: John Venditto, ex-Oyster Bay town supervisor, charged by SEC Nov. 15, 2017: Scheme to help restaurateur began when Mangano took office, court filing says Nov. 15, 2017: Oyster Bay legal bills related to Singh cases top $3.3M Oct. 30, 2017: GOP and Dems clash on alleged plot to indict Edward Mangano Oct. 30, 2017: GOP and Dems clash on alleged plot to indict Edward Mangano Oct. 17, 2017: Editorial: Keep a spotlight on nepotism in Long Island government Oct. 14, 2017: Over 100 Nassau politicians also have family in government Sept. 27, 2017: Brown: Will Skelos’ overturned conviction affect Mangano, Venditto? Sept. 25, 2017: Brown: Nassau towns suddenly embrace ethics reform Sept. 6, 2017: Venditto court papers seek dismissal of corruption charges Aug. 30, 2017: Mangano’s wife to judge: Dismiss criminal case Aug. 26, 2017: Brown: Edward Mangano, officially a lame duck, plots his future Aug. 11, 2017: Curran outraises Maragos in primary for Nassau executive July 26, 2017: De Blasio addresses top aides’ help to indicted donor Singh July 22, 2017: Brown: Lawmakers in Nassau push anti-corruption reforms in election year July 19, 2017: Edward Mangano’s fundraising dwindles July 17, 2017: Edward Mangano loses shot at possible re-election bid July 16, 2017: Editorial: Business as usual for Nassau GOP Inc. July 13, 2017: Mangano won’t seek third term as Republican July 10, 2017: Town sues former concessionaire, attorneys July 5, 2017: Nassau GOP eyes Election Day with its anti-corruption stance May 20, 2017: Nassau investigations chief Donna Myrill touts independence May 18, 2017: Nassau GOP taps state Sen. Jack Martins as county exec candidate April 30, 2017: GOP bill would ban public corruption felons from county office April 29, 2017: Nassau GOP chairman recalls telling Mangano he was being dropped March 15, 2017: Despite indictment, Manganos plan women’s event March 1, 2017: Source: GOP searching for Nassau exec candidate Feb 22, 2017: Nassau DA wiretapped 3 former Oyster Bay officials, sources say Feb 20, 2017: Mangano, Nassau GOP lawmaker in unusual split Feb. 12, 2017: Indicted concessionaire owes Oyster Bay nearly $300,000 Feb. 10, 2017: Nassau grand jury probing Oyster Bay corruption, sources say Feb. 9, 2017: Brown: Charges against Mangano will hang over election season Feb. 8, 2017: Mangano won’t face trial before 2018 Feb. 8, 2017: Brown: Mangano says ‘I’m not going anywhere’ Jan. 10, 2017: Mangano unlikely to be renominated for county exec, sources say Jan. 4, 2017: Federal bribery trial for Harendra Singh indefinitely delayed Dec. 31, 2016: Mangano says he’s been taking care of business since indictment Oct. 24, 2016: Mangano took $17,007 pay raise despite ongoing budget cuts Oct. 24, 2016: Federal charges vs. Venditto will not impact town lawsuits, lawyer says Oct. 20, 2016: Brown: New reality for Mangano, John Venditto Oct. 20, 2016: Harendra Singh is businessman at center of probes Oct. 20, 2016: Mangano, Venditto arrested on corruption charges, Feds say Nov. 21, 2015: LI pols attended galas, raised funds for Singh charity Nov. 9, 2015: Mangano’s calendar: No appearances when he might be on vacation with Singh Oct. 24, 2015: Town OK’d Singh’s contracts despite late bills, documents show Sept. 22, 2015: Whistleblower says Nassau DA failed to act in 2013 on key documents Sept. 13: 2015: Singh boasted about Mangano, other officials, gave them free meals, employees say Aug. 22, 2015: Town helped Singh get $16M in private loans exposing taxpayers to liabilities Aug. 9, 2015: Singh, contractor arranged, paid for trips for Mangano, other officials June 30, 2015: Restaurateur Harendra Singh, involved in Oyster Bay lawsuits, has ties to Mangano, records show
Other LI officials charged with abuse of power

The Politics of Corruption: James Burke

Ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke

James Burke

Convicted of: Deprivation of civil rights; conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice

James Burke, the Suffolk County Police Department’s former top uniformed officer, was indicted in December 2015 and charged by federal prosecutors with orchestrating an elaborate scheme to conceal his own crime. Burke, who was named Suffolk police chief in 2012, beat a handcuffed prisoner who had been charged with stealing a duffel bag from Burke’s police-issued vehicle, officials said. Burke pleaded guilty in February 2016 to conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and violating the victim’s civil rights and was sentenced in November 2016 to 46 months in prison. Burke has filed papers to appeal his sentence.

The latest on the Burke case

Feb. 1, 2018: Suffolk agrees to $1.5M settlement in Loeb’s federal suit Dec. 23, 2017: Arc of Thomas Spota’s career marked by close relationship with police Nov. 27, 2017: Brown: Third time a charm for Suffolk top cop search? Nov. 8, 2017: Original charges against James Burke’s accuser dropped Oct. 28, 2017: Brown: Thomas Spota couldn’t continue as Suffolk DA Oct. 26, 2017: Burke, at heart of Spota case, receives $145G pension Oct. 26, 2017: DA Thomas Spota ‘leaving my post’ after federal indictment Oct. 26, 2017: Spota’s decades-long relationship with Burke leads to indictment Oct. 25, 2017: Suffolk DA Thomas Spota, top aide indicted in cover-up Oct. 25, 2017: Editorial: District Attorney Thomas Spota’s contempt for the law Aug. 4, 2017: Burke accuser charged with violating order of protection May 9, 2017: Sources: Drugs found in ex-Suffolk police chief Burke’s prison cell April 26, 2017: Attorneys: Christopher Loeb indictment should be thrown out April 1, 2017: Brown: Several investigations of Long Island public officials underway Jan. 31, 2017: Christopher Loeb goes free as guilty plea is set aside Dec. 21, 2016: ‘Numerous’ cops pleaded guilty in James Burke cover-up, court papers say Nov. 16, 2016: James Burke, ex-Suffolk police chief, appealing prison sentence Nov. 2, 2016: Ex-Suffolk police chief James Burke gets 46 months in prison Oct. 31, 2016: Prosecutors recommend 51-month jail sentence for James Burke Oct. 28, 2016: James Burke asks for no prison so he can care for ill mom Sept. 9, 2016: Former Suffolk police chief James Burke sentencing date set May 3, 2016: Steve Bellone was warned James Burke’s past would lead to scandal Feb. 2, 2016: James Burke, ex-Suffolk police chief, offered plea deal of about 5 years, sources say Dec. 9, 2015: James Burke’s arrest generates disappointment, concern in Suffolk Dec. 10, 2016: Janison: Suffolk’s official puzzles are piling up Dec. 10, 2015: James Burke, ex-Suffolk police chief, charged in assault, cover-up Dec. 8, 2015: James Burke, former Suffolk police chief of department, indicted, sources say Oct. 27, 2015: Suffolk Police Chief James Burke resigns as federal probe reopens Nov. 7, 2013: Man at center of case with top Suffolk cop Burke says chief, other cops beat him Oct. 24, 2013: Testimony: Burke left crime scene with duffel bag July 13, 2013: Culture of cover-up: How deep is it? June 27, 2013: Editorial: Suffolk chief crossed line of good judgment June 25, 2013: Sources: FBI probing Suffolk Chief of Police James Burke June 14, 2013: Police: Chief went to theft suspect’s home June 14: 2013: Man accused of stealing police gun belt, ammo in St. James
Other LI officials charged with abuse of power

Film shines new light on LI triplets separated at birth

New York, 1980: Three Long Island brothers, identical triplets separated at birth, rediscover each other at age 19. Their amazing similarities and joy in finding one another make them a good-news sensation.

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Now: The three brothers — David Kellman, Robert Shafran and Eddy Galland — are being introduced to a new generation through a documentary film called “Three Identical Strangers.” The film, directed by Tim Wardle, won a special jury award at the recent Sundance Film Festival, and has been purchased by the distribution company Neon (“I, Tonya.”)

Much has changed since the curly-haired trio with megawatt smiles dominated the talk-show circuit.

Their dance with fame took a darker turn when the brothers discovered they had been unwitting participants in a secret human behavior experiment.

The brothers were born on Long Island and their mother gave them over to an adoption agency. They were deliberately placed into separate homes. The families knew the boys’ development was being charted. But neither the boys nor their adoptive parents knew about the other brothers, or that the true purpose of the study was to compare the triplets to measure the effects of heredity versus environment, nature versus nurture.

Fast-forward two decades to 1997 when the brothers first discussed the study publicly. One brother has died, and the anger and bitterness of the remaining brothers still burns over the wrongs they feel they suffered.

“How can you do this with little children?’’ asked Shafran in a Newsday article at the time.

With the premiere of the documentary, the remaining brothers, now 56, find themselves opening up about their lives again. They still say they shouldn’t have been separated and kept in the dark about one another. They should have been told.

“It was cruel; it was wrong,” Kellman told The Washington Post at the film festival.

What’s happened to them over the years?

Life. And death.

A year before the triplets reunited, Shafran had a brush with the law. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his part in a robbery in which an elderly New Rochelle woman was beaten to death. He was sentenced to probation.

Shafran was actually trying to restart his life when he enrolled in upstate New York’s Sullivan County Community College and found his identical brother Galland in 1980.

Michael Domnitz brought them together. He attended the college and was a good friend of Galland, who had left the school when Shafran arrived.

Domnitz asked Shafran the key question.

“Were you adopted?”

The answer led them to a pay phone to call Galland, of New Hyde Park. Domnitz remembers he was so excited he kept dropping the coins he was trying to slide into the pay slot.

That phone call paid off big-time. The third brother, Kellman, saw their story in the papers, and Long Island’s modern version of the Three Musketeers was formed.

The documentary shows the brothers still wowed by their discovery of one another, but disturbed by the unsettling secrecy of the study.

Nonetheless, they still want to read it.

The Twin Study, conducted by the late Dr. Peter Neubauer, has never been published. It remains under restricted access at Yale University until 2065. The brothers have received 10,000 pages of information, some of it redacted.

The study was overseen by the Children’s Development Center in New York, which has merged over time into the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. A spokeswoman for the Jewish Board said the brothers have been given the records that pertain to them.

The brothers, speaking through their publicist, declined to be interviewed until a movie release date is set.

Domnitz, for his part, said that when the brothers first met, they bonded so strongly that they started building their lives around each other. Having missed a shared childhood, the young men proceeded to create one. They acted like little kids together, and their on-camera antics enthralled the country.

These days, Domnitz noted, things are different.

In 1995, Eddy Galland, suffering from depression, committed suicide in his home in Maplewood, New Jersey. He was just 33, and he left behind a wife and a young daughter.

Shafran went on to become a lawyer.

In 2004, Shafran, then 42 and living in Brooklyn, was charged with drunken driving after police said he struck and injured three teenagers crossing a street in Bensonhurst. Shafran was sentenced to 140 hours of community service and a $500 fine, according to online public records.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and has two kids, Domnitz said.

Kellman is an insurance consultant who lives in Maplewood. Domnitz said he did not come to know Kellman as well as the other two brothers.

Four years ago, Kellman declared personal bankruptcy, according to public records.

The two remaining brothers still get together to play golf and “they see each other on holidays,” Domnitz said.

But they don’t smile as much, and when they do, it’s not that big, beaming grin they had as teens.

Part of that is aging, he said, and part of it is, well, all the rest.

The Politics of Corruption: Christopher McPartland

Suffolk County District Attorney Chief Aide Christopher McPartland

Christopher McPartland

Charges: Conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding; witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding; obstruction of justice; accessory after the fact to the deprivation of John Doe’s civil rights

Christopher McPartland, one of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s chief aides, who ran the office’s political corruption unit, was indicted along with Spota in October 2017 on federal charges related to allegations the two were involved in a cover-up of ex-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s assault of a suspect. McPartland pleaded not guilty to the charges. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said McPartland since has been reassigned “to duties unrelated to his former responsibilities.”

Other LI officials charged with abuse of power

The Politics of Corruption: Dean Skelos

Ex-State Senator Dean Skelos

Dean Skelos

Charges: Conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right; conspiracy to commit honest services fraud; extortion under color of official right; solicitation of bribes and gratuities

Dean Skelos, former Republican State Senate majority leader, was convicted in December 2015 of using his power to help his son, Adam, get jobs and payments from businesses. Federal prosecutors said the senator pressured three companies to give jobs, fees and benefits worth $300,000 to Adam, doing favors in Albany for the companies in return. He also intervened with Nassau County to help one of them on a contract, prosecutors said. His son was indicted on the same charges. In May 2016, Skelos was sentenced to 5 years, and his son was sentenced to 6½. In September 2017, an appeals court overturned the convictions. A retrial is set for June 2018.

The latest on the Skelos case

Jan. 29, 2018: Judge orders Adam Skelos to mental health treatment Jan. 1, 2018: State readies for 5 corruption trials in 2018 Nov. 1, 2017: Vacating of Skelos conviction prompts finger-pointing Oct. 31, 2017: Retrial date set for Skelos corruption charges Sept. 27, 2017: Will Skelos’ overturned conviction affect Mangano, Venditto? Sept. 26, 2017: Editorial: After Skelos and Silver rulings, keep up quest for Albany honesty Sept. 26, 2017: Appeals court overturns Dean Skelos conviction Aug. 7, 2017: Dean Skelos lawyers cite Silver reversal in appeal July 7, 2017: Anthony Bonomo, Skelos trial witness, ousted from company May 8, 2017: Ex-Republican leader Dean Skelos deserves new trial, lawyer says May 18, 2017: Charles Lavine: Don’t use campaign funds for criminal defense March 25, 2017: Brown: Nassau Republicans need to act on contract reforms March 25, 2017: Brown: Nassau Republicans need to act on contract reforms March 23, 2017: Contractors bypass Nassau disclosure law Dec. 28, 2016: Skelos, Silver postscript: LI firms face lobbying fines Oct. 27, 2016: Judge questions insurer’s refusal to pay in Adam Skelos case Aug. 4, 2016: Skelos, son to stay out of prison pending appeal July 28, 2016: Dean Skelos formally disbarred after corruption conviction July 15, 2016: Skelos, Silver have hefty campaign cash to pay legal bills June 16, 2016: State corruption deal would take away convicted pols’ pensions June 7, 2016: Editorial: Albany should cast a wide net in pension-stripping bill May 12, 2016: Skelos sentenced to 5 years in corruption; son gets 6 1/2 April 27, 2016: Dean Skelos: $500,000 fine in corruption case ‘unwarranted’ April 15, 2016: Dean Skelos judge questions legality of increasing fine; rejects bid for new trial April 4, 2016: Dean Skelos, son Adam should face stiff sentences April 4: 2016: Letter: Dean Skelos’ plea was pathetic March 27, 2016: Pols among writers of 184 letters on Dean Skelos’ behalf March 23, 2016: Adam Skelos asks for ‘mercy’ in sentencing memo March 14, 2016: Dean Skelos’ sentencing postponed until April by judge Feb. 25, 2016: Letter: Pensions for convicts is beyond troubling Feb. 17, 2016: Dean Skelos, convicted of corruption, gets $95G state pension Feb. 4, 2016: Dean Skelos, son get postponement in sentencing on corruption conviction Jan. 26, 2016: Dean Skelos, son Adam, seek new trial, or acquittal of federal corruption charges Jan. 15, 2016: Dean Skelos spent $762G on legal defense, records show Dec. 30, 2015: Dean Skelos’ seat sparks political battling Dec. 29, 2015: Ex. Sen-Dean Skelos files for pension 11 days after conviction, officials say Dec. 21, 2015: Dean Skelos park in Rockville Centre subject of name-change effort May 31, 2015: Most Nassau contracts like the one in Skelos probe don’t go to lowest bidder, records show
Other LI officials charged with abuse of power

How Long Island’s eight IDAs compare

Industrial development agencies, appointed bodies that give tax breaks to companies in an effort to create or save jobs, have had a varied track record on Long Island. Here are the details for 2004 and 2016, compiled by Newsday reporter James T. Madore, for the eight local IDAs, seen in seven charts you can step through using the arrow buttons.

IDA performance in seven charts

In Islip, figures include 2015 data for six projects that did not respond to the IDA’s annual survey. You can read more about the efforts to rein in the IDAs. And below is the data from the charts, with percentage change and totals or averages.

Active projects

20042016Difference
Nassau County IDA67173158%
Suffolk County IDA11513820%
Glen Cove IDA410150%
Hempstead Town IDA468074%
Babylon Town IDA71186162%
Brookhaven Town IDA637621%
Islip Town IDA6411681%
Riverhead Town IDA193374%
   TOTAL44981281%

Total tax savings for the companies

20042016Difference
Nassau County IDA$10,607,565$43,642,194 311%
Suffolk County IDA$6,152,248 $6,970,070 13%
Glen Cove IDA$2,343,171 $3,182,691 36%
Hempstead Town IDA$10,340,696 $46,607,749 351%
Babylon Town IDA$3,240,163 $14,024,478 333%
Brookhaven Town IDA$3,511,757 $9,610,193 174%
Islip Town IDA$5,852,545 $16,791,603 187%
Riverhead Town IDA$1,177,080 $2,367,995 101%
   TOTAL$43,225,225 $143,196,973 231%

Total taxes that would have been paid

20042016Difference
Nassau County IDA$10,925,822 $88,640,203711%
Suffolk County IDA$20,102,143 $26,342,367 31%
Glen Cove IDA$2,673,371 $6,187,109 131%
Hempstead Town IDA$17,578,925 $68,705,158 291%
Babylon Town IDA$8,656,868 $29,128,977 236%
Brookhaven Town IDA$4,794,588 $23,732,817 395%
Islip Town IDA$12,686,809 $33,746,880 166%
Riverhead Town IDA$1,998,619 $3,408,785 71%
   TOTAL$79,417,145 $279,892,296 252%

Tax savings granted per job

20042016Difference
Nassau County IDAN/A$3,014 N/A
Suffolk County IDA$329 $454 34%
Glen Cove IDA$11,600 $22,572 95%
Hempstead Town IDA$3,659 $8,280 126%
Babylon Town IDA$1,462 $2,075 42%
Brookhaven Town IDA$578 $1,779 208%
Islip Town IDA$2,235 $5,792 159%
Riverhead Town IDA$1,539 $2,406 56%
   LONG ISLAND$1,748 $2,773 59%

Job change for companies in the year

20042016Difference
Nassau County IDA-8,67814,478N/A
Suffolk County IDA18,69615,342-18%
Glen Cove IDA202141-30%
Hempstead Town IDA2,8265,62999%
Babylon Town IDA2,2176,758205%
Brookhaven Town IDA6,0795,401-11%
Islip Town IDA2,6182,89911%
Riverhead Town IDA76598429%
   TOTAL24,72851,632109%

Total tax payments made

20042016Difference
Nassau County IDA$318,257$44,998,010 14039%
Suffolk County IDA$13,949,895 $19,372,297 39%
Glen Cove IDA$330,200 $3,004,418 810%
Hempstead Town IDA$7,238,229 $22,097,409 205%
Babylon Town IDA$5,416,705 $15,104,499 179%
Brookhaven Town IDA$1,282,831 $14,122,624 1001%
Islip Town IDA$6,834,264 $16,955,277 148%
Riverhead Town IDA$821,539 $1,040,790 27%
   TOTAL$36,191,920 $136,695,324 278%

Tax savings per project

20042016Difference
Nassau County IDA$158,322$252,267 59%
Suffolk County IDA$53,498 $50,508 -6%
Glen Cove IDA$585,793 $318,269 -46%
Hempstead Town IDA$224,798 $582,597 159%
Babylon Town IDA$45,636 $75,400 65%
Brookhaven Town IDA$55,742 $126,450 127%
Islip Town IDA$91,446 $144,755 58%
Riverhead Town IDA$61,952 $71,757 16%
   LONG ISLAND$96,270 $176,351 83%

What’s been your experience on Long Island as an African-American?

Fifty years ago, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot in Memphis while supporting striking sanitation workers. The turbulent movement for civil and human rights marched on without him, and the assassin’s bullet did not end King’s dream of equality for all.

Progress toward that goal has come in fits and starts: The nation has elected its first African-American president to two terms, and there have been overall gains in housing, employment and education. But still, those at the grassroots see a different reality. Spurred by a rising tide of racially charged incidents, such as recent high-profile killings of unarmed black men by police, African-Americans continue to lend their voices — and bodies — in protests echoing the turbulent 60s.

On Long Island, the nation’s first suburb, diversity has increased drastically over the past five decades. The area boasts one of the fastest-growing populations of immigrants but Long Island remains one of the most racially segregated areas in the nation, retaining its identity as an exclusive community despite passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

So, as another Black History Month is celebrated and the 50th anniversary of King’s April 4 assassination nears, where are we now? We asked the subjects of our Black History Month coverage to describe their experiences on Long Island. Here’s what they had to say:

“It was a hit for us, coming out of a poor neighborhood going to a rich school. But some of the people embraced us and we got along.”
– Ernestine Small, 81, recalls being bused to a well-off and white high school while growing up in Rockville Centre.

She said that some black students dropped out because of the pressure. Still, she remembers a largely happy childhood. “I came out of a working family. My father had a beautiful garden and all he raised, my mother canned and cooked so we had plenty. I had the love and support of my community and my church.” Small was interviewed as one of the audience member’s during Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Rockville Centre in March 1968, just about a week before he was assassinated. Read that story here.


“I can’t speculate why those incidents occurred but I can say I have met some really good people in my community and value those many friendships today.”
– Errol Toulon Jr., the first African-American sheriff in Suffolk County.

Toulon described two incidents that cast a shadow on an otherwise positive experience on Long Island—having his mailbox blown up in 2007 after a racial epithet was yelled outside his house and having the police called on him while canvassing door-to-door during the legislature race in 2009. The incidents shook him but he said he never considered moving. Toulon was interviewed about his rise to sheriff and the personal battles he fought along the way. Read that story here.


 
“I used to say my kids would not have to experience what we did. Now my grandchildren are being exposed to this. It’s really sad.”
– Cheryl Durant, a former assistant principal in the Half Hollow Hills school district.

Durant recalls being the only black educator in her building when she retired about a decade ago. In the 1960s her parents, both educators, and other activists pushed for Long Island school districts to hire more blacks but the change has not materialized. Read more about the issue of racial equality in Long Island’s school districts in a story coming this month.


“People don’t realize sometimes that they are being offensive in the things that they say. It’s subtle. It’s not real overt.”
– Sandy Thomas of Wyandanch, on a lack of cultural understanding.

Thomas, a long-time church activist who moved to Long Island in 1972, said the climate is improving, but she noted there’s still tremendous segregation. She said she was heartened, though, when she led a Black History Month activity at a Huntington school, and during a play they were putting together, a number of white and black students raised their hand to play the role of Martin Luther King Jr. “I thought it was the cutest thing,” Thomas said. “We’ve really made progress if little white boys want to be Martin Luther King.” Read more about religious leaders’ views on equality on Long Island in a story coming this month.

Add your story to this project

The Long Island Blizzard of 1978: 40 Years of Memories

Forty years ago Tuesday, Nadine Caiati Wahl found herself gazing out the main door of Bloomingdale’s in Garden City, watching heavy snow “coming down and coming down.”

Stranded at the department store with around a dozen colleagues, she saw no cars on the road and no people walking, as the snow, courtesy of the raging Blizzard of ’78, was “too heavy, too thick, too deep.”

“Lots of us remember” that storm, said Wahl, 63, who grew up in Westbury. “How could you forget?”

Right around midnight on Feb. 6, the “first gentle snowflakes began falling,” Newsday reported. Snowfall became more intense, whipped about much of the time by 50 to 60 mph winds, and not letting up until the afternoon of the following day.

When all was said and done, Long Island MacArthur Airport recorded 25.9 inches of snow — to this day the second-highest amount for a storm since records started being kept in 1963, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center. (The top snow-producer was the 2013 storm of Feb. 8 to 9, which dropped 27.8 inches.)

What’s more, Long Islanders, 40 years ago, had just dug out from 17 inches of snow, delivered unexpectedly a little more than two weeks earlier.

Long Island was, indeed, paralyzed, “by the worst winter storm in 30 years and the second in 18 days,” Newsday reported, with roadways buried, motorists trapped, and some “3,000 cars abandoned in a wilderness of unplowed highways.”

“We can keep up with the snow, but the wind is killing us,” one Brookhaven Town plow driver told Newsday, describing it as the worst snow he had ever seen. As for visibility — “there is none,” another driver said.

Travelers were stranded as area airports closed for close to 48 hours. Some 2,000 Long Islanders found shelter in emergency refuge centers, Newsday reported, with others like Wahl stranded at their workplaces.

Three storm-related deaths were reported in Newsday, as well as the collapse of 11 homes as a result of high tides and flooding.

Property damage from tidal flooding and beach erosion amounted to more than $40 million for New York coastal areas, according to a storm report issued at the time by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Coming in the days before The Weather Channel, not to mention texting, Twitter, Instagram posting, and alerts popping up on smartphones, the blizzard appears to be especially evocative for those Long Islanders who rode it out.

At the time, Norm Dvoskin, retired News 12 Long Island meteorologist, was still employed as a product/environmental researcher by Grumman, then the Island’s largest private employer.

Dvoskin said his main recollection was actually the storm’s aftermath.

Living in a large garden apartment complex in Woodbury, he said up until then his neighbors tended to go their separate ways, and “we didn’t even know each other.”

However, as they started digging cars out, some sentiment of shared circumstances must have kicked in.

That’s as someone first brought out some snacks, then food, then wine, he said, as the occasion turned into a party.

“We all had something in common — we were all stuck,” Dvoskin said. Such adversity “brings out the best in people.”

Eric Gabriel, now 51 and living in San Diego, experienced it through the eyes of an 11-year-old, cavorting in the snow of his family’s Ronkonkoma home, and reveling in the “sheer bliss” of days off from school.

“If you’re a kid, the gates to heaven opened,” said Gabriel, a writer and musician.

But he also recognizes the stresses that others went through — his father, who was snowed in alone for three days in his Oceanside office, survived on popcorn and cans of soup. And both his parents fretted, he said, over the worry that their supply of heating oil might run out, and how would they ever get it replenished?

A flock of Long Islanders had posted their own blizzard of ’78 experiences, some as recently as January, on a 2013 blog entry on LongIsland70skid.com, a site Gabriel created to honor the decade he spent on the Island, as well as to create a space where others could reminisce.

That’s where Wahl, now living in Sarasota, Fla., shared her story of hunkering down at Bloomingdale’s, where she, then assistant manager in women’s sports, and co-workers cooked meals in the store’s restaurant, slept in the furniture department’s model bedrooms, and played Atari video games.

“We had a surreal and fun time,” she said.


Blizzard of ’78, meteorologically speaking…

“There’s no question about the form of precipitation – it will be all snow,” said a spokesman for the National Weather Service, which had forecast at least 12 inches, blizzard-like conditions, drifting snow and tides two-to-four feet above normal, according to a Newsday report.

“You have the makings of a real mess,” a weather service spokesman said.

How it unfolded, according to a NOAA storm report:

-Late Feb. 5, “a weak low moved into Pennsylvania, bringing light snow.”

-Early on Feb. 6, “a secondary storm developed off the Carolina coast…intensified rapidly, moved northward to about 60 miles south of eastern Long Island.”

-It then “remained almost stationary for about 12 hours before redeveloping farther eastward.”

-“Temperatures were in the 20s and winds gusted to over 50 m.p.h. with blizzard conditions most of the 6th into the morning of the 7th.”