Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has
Frederick Ippolito, Oyster Bay’s commissioner of planning and development, remained on the town payroll Wednesday — one day after pleading guilty to a felony count of evading $2 million in federal income taxes.
Marta Kane, a town spokeswoman, said the town would have no other comment on Ippolito’s work status, because officials were waiting to review Ippolito’s plea agreement.
Oyster Bay may be looking in the wrong place.VideoOyster Bay official pleads guilty to tax evasion
Instead, officials may want to examine New York State’s public officers law, Section 30, which states: “Every office shall be vacant upon the happening of one of the following events ... :
“ ... Conviction of a felony, or a crime involving a violation of his oath of office.”
The law allows a “non-elected official,” such as Ippolito, to seek reinstatement “upon reversal or the vacating of such conviction where the conviction is the sole basis for the vacancy.”
Which would appear to mean Ippolito lost his post upon his conviction.
But Ippolito’s attorney, Brian Griffin, stressed Wednesday that Ippolito’s plea involved his personal federal income taxes. “It had nothing to do with political corruption or public office,” Griffin said.
Also, “there is no indication or evidence to indicate that there is any further investigation of my client,” Griffin said of federal prosecutors.
Following Ippolito’s guilty plea on Tuesday, Joseph Pinto and Anthony Macagnone, two members of the all-Republican board, called for Ippolito’s resignation because of his felony plea. Their commentsrepresented a rare break from the town board silence on on a series of scandals.
The town has been roiled for months in the wake of the federal indictment of Harendra Singh, a town vendor alleged to have bribed a town deputy attorney to get the town — and by extension residents — to back his private loans.
Why the sudden break in silence?
“It’s because of talking to residents who want answers and because things get on your conscience,” Macagnone said Wednesday. “Something had to be said.”
For Macagnone, it’s not just Ippolito.
It’s also about Moody’s Investors Service’s decision Tuesday to withdrew its bond rating for Oyster Bay — the fourth largest town in New York State — because officials couldn’t provide a 2014 audited financial report.
“I read that in Newsday, too, and I read that they didn’t get the report because of a computer glitch, which was the first time I’d heard of that,” he said. “We paid a lot for that new system and it went in 2014, and this is the first I’m learning of a glitch?”
Macagnone wants an independent assessment of Oyster Bay’s entire operation, from Ippolito’s planning department to finances. “The public’s faith must be restored,” he said.
Losing Ippolito would be a good start.