Fired police cadet Martha Amato to file bias charge against Nassau, lawyer says

A Nassau police cadet was fired due to A Nassau police cadet was fired due to issues related to her "conduct and performance" at the academy, officials said. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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The lawyer for a Nassau police recruit fired for what officials said were issues related to her "conduct and performance" said Saturday the county discriminated against her because of her age and gender.

Martha Amato's lawyer, Matthew J. Blit, said his client planned to file a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "against the county for discrimination and a hostile work environment based upon Ms. Amato's age and gender."

"Throughout Ms. Amato's training the county had continuously treated her differently than others due to her age and gender, trying to force her to quit," Blit said. "When she would not quit, they unlawfully terminated her."

Amato, 41, of West Babylon, was sworn in with the county's most recent class of 160 recruits in May. She was accepted despite her November 1991 arrest in Nassau County on charges of second-degree forgery and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, both felonies; as well as third-degree forgery, a misdemeanor, court records show.

She pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor forgery charge and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and a $200 fine.

Amato's firing on Friday came one month after Newsday first asked the police department about her arrest and conviction, which a source said she had disclosed when she applied.

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"The basis of her termination was based solely upon her conduct and performance as a Police Officer Recruit. As such, the specifics are deemed confidential . . . as they are personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment," police Insp. Kenneth Lack said in a statement Friday.

Police declined to say anything more Saturday "due to pending litigation," Lack said.

Appointments to the police department are determined by Nassau's Civil Service Commission. Karl Kampe, executive director of the commission, did not return a call Saturday seeking comment.

Under state law, people with criminal convictions may be certified ineligible by a civil service office, but are not automatically disqualified.

County rules also require police candidates be younger than 35 years old on the date of their written civil service exam, except in cases where they served in the military.

It was unclear when Amato took the exam.

Competition for jobs in the department is fierce, with candidates often waiting months or years for an opportunity to join. A police source said Amato's criminal history and age were overlooked by county officials who, "because of her political connections," granted her a coveted spot in the academy.

"A favor got called in by someone with influence, and the county didn't say no," the source said.

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Someone named Martha Amato of West Babylon donated $500 to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's re-election committee in 2013, according to State Board of Election records.

A spokesman for Mangano did not respond to a request for comment.

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