Fired Nassau County employee Robin Pellegrini may get $1.57M settlement

Robin Pellegrini, former employee of Nassau County Office Robin Pellegrini, former employee of Nassau County Office of Housing and Intergovernmental Affairs, with her attorney, Fred Brewington, as she testifys before the Nassau Legislature Rules Committee at Legislature Office Building in Mineola on Monday, Feb. 9, 2004. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

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A Nassau legislative committee is set to approve a $1.57 million settlement Monday with a former top employee in the county's housing office who said she was fired in 2002 after exposing spending and hiring irregularities by her boss, a Democratic deputy county executive.

The agreement, which will come before the legislature's Rules Committee, would end 10 years of litigation between the county and Robin Pellegrini, 62, of Garden City. She sued the county in federal court for $70 million.

"This settlement is a fair and equitable way to resolve contentious litigation that was commenced over a decade ago," County Attorney Carnell Foskey said. "Ultimately this settlement will bring this matter to a reasonable and just close."

Pellegrini's attorney, Frederick Brewington of Hempstead, declined to discuss details of the case, but said he was "looking forward to bringing this matter to a close."

Pellegrini, who was director of Nassau's Office of Housing and Intergovernmental Affairs, contends former Deputy County Executive Peter Sylver used federal block grant funds -- intended for development projects in poor neighborhoods -- for consulting contracts and to put friends on the county's payroll.

Pellegrini said she also attended a meeting in which Sylver asked a Hempstead developer to hire Sylver's brother in exchange for a construction grant.

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Pellegrini said that when she voiced concerns about the spending, Sylver fired her.

Sylver denied the allegations at the time. Neither he nor Pellegrini could be reached for comment.

Sylver, who was hired by Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi in 2002, resigned in 2003 after allegations that he used a county credit card for expensive restaurant meals, to tint the windows of his county-issued car and for a $3,400 trip to London.

Sylver pleaded guilty to misusing an office credit card and harassing a female co-worker and received 3 years probation.

The four Republicans on the Rules Committee plan to support the settlement and bonding to pay for it, GOP legislative spokesman Frank Moroney said. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the three committee Democrats probably will vote for the agreement and the borrowing.

The settlement then would go before the full 19-member legislature later this month. Bonding requires 13 votes, including those of at least two Democrats.

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