8 public officials charged with abuse of power

Over the past few years, government investigations have led to the arrests of Long Island politicians charged with crimes ranging from assault to bribery. Some of these cases resulted in convictions, while others are ongoing. Follow Newsday’s latest coverage on the most prominent cases here.

The County Executive

Edward Mangano

Charges: Conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice and extortion

Background: Six years after taking over as Nassau’s top official, Edward Mangano was arrested in October 2016 and accused of receiving “bribes and kickbacks” from businessman Harendra Singh. Mangano’s wife, Linda, was arrested alongside him on charges that she received a lucrative no-show job from Singh, Feds said. His trial date is set for January 2018.Read more

“Sadly, we’re getting confronted with public officials who are alleged to have abused their positions of trust.” U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers
“It’s ridiculous, but I can’t say any more…I’m going to continue to govern. I’m going to go to work.” Edward Mangano
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The Town Supervisor

John Venditto

Federal charges: Conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice, making false statements to federal agents

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

Background: Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto was arrested alongside Mangano in October 2016. Venditto pleaded not guilty, and resigned in January. In June 2017, Venditto and seven other Oyster Bay officials were accused by Nassau DA Madeline Singas of “bribery, money laundering and a crooked multimillion-dollar property deal.” He also pleaded not guilty to these charges. His trial date on the federal charges is slated for 2018.Read more

“Mr. Mangano and Mr. Venditto received bribes and kickbacks from their co-conspirator on an on-demand basis or as opportunities arose in connection with business dealings.” U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers
“When you know in your heart that you didn’t do the things you were accused of, it makes it a little easier to handle.” John Venditto
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The Councilman

Edward Ambrosino

Charges: Income tax evasion, wire fraud

Background: After more than a decade on the Hempstead Town Board, Councilman Edward Ambrosino was accused of failing to pay more than $250,000 in income taxes, much of which came from jobs performed for Nassau County. Feds said Ambrosino, a lawyer, siphoned off money for two years to a shell company and underreported his earnings. In the week following Ambrosino’s arrest, the Nassau County IDA dropped him as one of their attorneys. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.Read more

“Public officials are not exempt from paying their fair share of taxes and otherwise complying with the laws of the United States, just like any other citizen.”Acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District Bridget Rohde
“I believe the case revolves around Mr. Ambrosino’s tax returns that he has already amended. If he was ‘Ed Public’ rather than ‘Ed Politician,’ we wouldn’t be in this situation.”Defense attorney Dennis Lemke
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The Police Chief

James Burke

Convicted of: Assault, cover-up

Background: After a career that spanned nearly three decades, James Burke was arrested in December 2015 for orchestrating an elaborate scheme to conceal his own crime, Feds said. Burke, who was named Suffolk police chief in 2012, beat a heroin-addicted man who stole a duffel bag from his police-issued vehicle, officials said. He was sentenced in November 2016 to serve 46 months in prison. Burke is appealing his sentence, according to court papers. Read more

“I thought you were untouchable…Now look at us both, we are both incarcerated. The difference, besides the fact that my sentence is about to end and yours is only beginning, is that my actions reflected only me. … Your crimes revealed deep problems in the entire Suffolk County law enforcement community.” The victim, Christopher Loeb
“Through my 31-year career in law enforcement, I have always believed that one must be accountable for one’s actions…This morning, sir, I stand before you accountable for my actions.” James Burke in a statement to a judge
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The State Senator

Dean Skelos

Charges: Tax evasion

Background: Former State Sen. Dean Skelos was convicted in December 2015 of using his Senate power to help his son Adam get jobs and payments from businesses. The 20-year senator and second Long Islander to lead the N.Y. Senate majority pressured three companies to give jobs, fees and benefits worth $300,000 to Adam, doing favors in Albany for the companies in return, prosecutors said. He also intervened with Nassau County to help one of the companies on a contract. In September 2017, an appeals court overturned the conviction. The acting U.S. attorney, Joon Kim, said his office will pursue a retrial.Read more

“To the extent you wish to do community service…you can teach others in prison.”Manhattan U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood
“It’s destroyed my reputation…Somehow I let things go off the rails.”Dean Skelos
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The Conservative party leader

Edward Walsh

Convicted of: Wire fraud and theft of government funds

Background: While at the helm of the Suffolk County Conservative Party, Edward Walsh golfed, gambled and politicked on the county’s dime, Feds said. Walsh 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. Walsh was sentenced to two years in prison and was ordered to make $202,000 in restitution on June 20, 2017.Read more

“[Walsh] thought he was special…He thought he could rig the game so the rules didn’t apply to him.” Prosecutor Raymond Tierney
“We’re disappointed in the judge’s decision, but we respect it.” Attorney William Wexler after judge denies conviction overturn
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The Town Commissioner

Frederick Ippolito

Convicted of: Tax evasion (federal)

Charged with: Money laundering (state), defrauding the government (state), bribe receiving (state), official misconduct (state), theft of services (state) and receiving reward for official misconduct (state)

Background: Ex-Oyster Bay official Frederick Ippolito pleaded guilty in January 2016 in connection with $2 million in outside consulting fees he received while working as the town’s planning and development commissioner. While the judge acknowledged Ippolito informed the town Board of Ethics of his arrangement, he said board members should have known better. Ippolito died in prison on June 5, 2017, while appealing his sentence. Less than a month later, Ippolito was charged with receiving $1.6 million in bribes, some of which are the same funds at the center of his federal case, to help construct a senior housing development, Nassau DA Madeline Singas said. A judge ended that criminal case in September 2017.Read more

“When he is getting over $2 million from someone he’s supposed to be regulating…that’s certainly a conflict.” U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler
“While certainly we are gratified that the court did not largely enhance the sentence, we are concerned with the manner in which the court arrived at the sentence.”Attorney Brian Griffin after the sentencing
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The Town Democratic leader

Gerard Terry

Charges: Tax evasion

Background: Gerard Terry, leader of the North Hempstead Democratic Party, concocted a complex scheme to avoid paying federal taxes totaling over $1.4 million since 2000, officials said. He did so while earning more than $250,000 a year. Terry pleaded not guilty to two federal tax-evasion-related charges. In September 2017, Terry pleaded guilty to a state charge of tax fraud. He admitted he failed to file a 2010 state personal income tax return and did not pay more than $3,000 in taxes. He is scheduled to be sentenced on that charge in November 2017. Read more

“Terry has manipulated and enlisted others in his obstructionist practices.”Letter in his indictment
The tax situation was the result of a “cascading series of serious health issues,” Terry has said, citing his open heart surgery, and he promised to settle with the IRS.
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Producer: Heather Doyle

Designer: James Stewart

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