Long Island

Lifting the lid on secrecy

Newsday in 2016 exposed secret political and legal dealings on Long Island that kept vital information from the public view.

These three investigations are prime examples: the case of a lawyer convicted of a drug felony who later had his charges reduced and got his law license back; the routine and often improper sealing of court cases of interest to the public; and the behind-the-scenes political jockeying that leads to judge candidates running unopposed in Long Island elections.

The curious case of Robert Macedonio

The story

Long Island attorney Robert Macedonio pleaded guilty to felony cocaine possession in 2008 and lost his law license. But three years later – under circumstances largely sealed from public view – the judge and district attorney let Macedonio reduce his conviction to a misdemeanor, paving the way for him to regain his law license.

How Newsday got it

Newsday reporters Gus Garcia-Roberts and Will Van Sant searched for records in the Macedonio case and found an obscure real estate transaction confirming the district attorney’s office had moved to seize his property after leveling the drug charge. It led to a Newsday legal challenge that opened up more of the case record. The reporters then built the story in part by developing sources within the district attorney’s office.

How hundreds of court cases are blocked from view

The story

Long Island judges have sealed more than 300 cases involving government agencies, hospitals and other entities key to the public’s welfare – often without justification.

How Newsday got it

Working as a reporter on Long Island, Will Van Sant was familiar with records that had been sealed from public view. Curious, he meticulously reviewed 10 years of records and discovered more than 300 cases over roughly a decade that were questionably sealed. In 35 cases, he discovered, even the sealing orders were sealed, making the propriety of these decisions impossible to analyze.

How LI judges win races before they start

The Story

One in four judicial candidates has been backed by both Republicans and Democrats in the past 10 years, all victors in races that were won before they started.

How Newsday got it

On a secret wiretap reported in a previous Newsday story, a lawyer discussed how one town Republican Party would trade the endorsement of a Democrat for four full-time and eight part-time highway department jobs. Through sources and other reporting, Newsday’s Sandra Peddie then uncovered other vivid instances that illustrated behind-the-scenes wrangling for political support.