Absentee voter list's removal being probed

Josh Lafazan, 18, a Syosset High School senior, Josh Lafazan, 18, a Syosset High School senior, is running for the Syosset Board of Education. (April 17, 2012) Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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The father of an 18-year-old school board candidate in Syosset took the only list of absentee voters in the district Monday afternoon, prompting school officials to issue a robo-call to parents naming him and prompting Nassau police to investigate.

Jeffrey Lafazan said in an interview that he didn't know the document was the district's only copy.

Monday night his wife, Sandy, said she returned the documents to the Nassau County police Second Precinct and was given a receipt by a detective.

Police Monday night confirmed they had opened an investigation into the incident and it was continuing.

Lafazan said earlier that school officials were trying to smear him and his son, Joshua, the senior class president, who is critical of Superintendent Carole Hankin and her salary, the highest among superintendents on Long Island.

"This is so absurd," the elder Lafazan said. "It's insane."

The district posted a notice about the incident on its website and issued a robo-call to parents. Both named Jeffrey Lafazan. The notice remained posted on the district website as of about  8:30 a.m. Tuesday, as polls were open, but was removed shortly thereafter.

An attorney for the school district said it is considering pressing charges. District officials refused to comment beyond the notice on the district's website, which said that "these records are crucial to the fair and impartial conduct of the school board election."

Jeffrey Lafazan said he wanted to see the list to be sure it had the names of former Syosset students who now are in college and support his son's bid for the board.

He said he visited the school at 9:30 a.m. Monday, asking to see the list, but was turned away. He said he called the state Board of Elections to report what he considered a violation of open records laws and was told the board would call the district on his behalf.

Lafazan said he received a voice-mail from the district at 11:30 a.m., telling him he could see the records at noon. When he arrived, he said, a district employee handed him the list.

Lafazan, a mortgage broker, said he had an appointment in Queens at 1 p.m. and wanted to read the document later, which is why he took it with him. He said he thought it was a copy.

A statement posted Monday afternoon on the district's website said, "Mr. Lafazan removed the records without permission and ran away. A chase by district security ensued. The resident escaped with the records and Nassau County police were called." The same message was delivered to parents by phone.

"It's a crime," said Vanessa Sheehan, an attorney for the school district.

Lafazan denied he "ran away," saying he walked to his car.

Concerned about the reception he would get later Monday at the district's office, he said, he gave the document to his wife to return. When she got there late in the afternoon, the offices were locked, he said.

Sheehan said the incident would not jeopardize the validity of the election. The absentee votes will be counted along with those cast Tuesday, she said.

Joshua Lafazan said the incident did not involve him.

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