Depending on who tells the story, the 30-year-old son of Joe Cairo, second in command of Nassau Republicans, is either a suspect or a victim.
According to Nassau police, Cairo's son, Joseph Michael, was arrested early Friday for allegedly taking down Democratic campaign signs in the Valmont Plaza parking lot in North Valley Stream, hometown of both Joes, and then loading them into the senior Cairo's black 2007 Cadillac.
After an unnamed witness picked the younger Cairo out of a photo array, police went to the house he shares with his father and arrested him around midnight and charged him with petty larceny, a misdemeanor. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due to be arraigned Oct. 29.
According to Republican spokesman Anthony Santino, the younger Cairo is a victim of "political thuggery." Speaking for the family, Santino said, "It's an outrageously false charge being made by desperate candidates, who are smearing a fine young man."
Even if Democratic signs did come down, which he doesn't concede, he said, "the owner of the property has always given local Republicans the authority to take down Democratic signs on that property."
He produced a letter, dated Friday, from shopping center owner Anthony Dalto, to the senior Cairo, affirming that he had given permission to him and "his political associates" to post political signs and "to remove any political signs posted by others who do not have our permission to do so."
Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said, "I guess somebody got to somebody" - adding his party "always gets permission from store owners to post signs. . . . And we never put up a sign if they say no."
- Celeste Hadrick
and Eden Laikin