A lawyer for Larry Slatky asked a judge Thursday to dismiss corruption charges against the ex-public health system official, saying Nassau prosecutors failed in their duty to hand over evidence favorable to the defense before the trial started.
Slatky, 65, of Cold Spring Harbor, is on trial in Mineola on two official misconduct charges after pleading not guilty to a 2014 indictment. Prosecutors claim he broke the law in 2010 as chief operating officer of Nassau Health Care Corp. by renegotiating a new lowest bid for a nursing home laundry contract so a friend, who didn't have the original lowest bid, would win it.
Defense attorney Brian Griffin requested a mistrial with prejudice after the district attorney's office turned over an anonymous letter, first to Nassau Supervising Judge Christopher Quinn and then to the defense.
But Assistant District Attorney Andrew Weiss said it "would be impossible to reach out to the writer," and it didn't amount to evidence that has to be given to the defense under the Brady rule. The rule generally requires prosecutors to disclose evidence favorable to the defendant.
"The letter is just rumor. The people are not charged with turning over . . . rumor," Weiss said.
The unsigned letter from November 2013 alleged a person now a witness in the case against Slatky was "being paid off by many vendors" and that corruption was rife in the purchasing department of Nassau University Medical Center. The hospital is part of Nassau Health Care Corp., which is a public benefit corporation also known as NuHealth.
The anonymous dispatch also alleged that another NuHealth supervisor was getting kickbacks from a different laundry vendor now involved in Slatky's case, and that the hospital's purchasing department "overrides the lowest bidder and gives the business to their friends." A NuHealth spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday on allegations in the letter.
Griffin told Quinn the defense's ability to investigate the case "has been completely hampered." After court, the Garden City attorney added: "Our position is when you withhold exculpatory evidence for 22 months, and by doing that, prohibit the defense from speaking to witnesses that would clear our client, the only proper remedy is to dismiss the case."
A spokesman for acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said the letter "is not Brady material, but was nonetheless provided to the court and defense out of an excess of caution."
The judge will decide whether prosecutors violated the Brady rule, and if so, what sanctions to impose.
Weiss suggested that if the judge did find a violation, he should just grant a trial delay to let the defense look into the letter. The defense said if Quinn granted a mistrial with prejudice, Slatky couldn't be retried in the same case. The judge ordered attorneys to submit written arguments by Friday.