Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has lost his court battle with former top aide Paul Sabatino over $40,222 in withheld exit pay.

And, the county will have to pay Sabatino an extra $4,500 in interest because the war lasted 2 1/2 years.

The Appellate Division in Brooklyn ruled unanimously that Sabatino is "entitled to be paid" all $194,220 in exit pay for unused vacation and sick time, though the county argued Sabatino should forfeit 444 hours.

The county claimed he failed to disclose waivers that later benefitted him after he drafted legislation to reform payouts. But Sabatino's lawyer Anton Boravina said Sabatino made disclosures on three separate occasions and bill changes were aimed at gaining votes for the reform, not helping Sabatino, then legislative counsel.

And while the issue of pay was resolved in court, there is still tension between Levy and Sabatino.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Levy said, "I feel offended that for nearly 20 years, Paul carried these exemptions in his back pocket and never disclosed them to me."

Sabatino said he was pleased to be vindicated. "Being accused of ethical improprieties by the Levy administration is akin to have Eliot Spitzer lecture you on the evils of prostitution," he said.

The appeals court found the county claims were "without merit." And in an earlier court ruling, State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Spinner found them to be "a bit tortured" and "unsupported by the facts."

Assistant County Attorney Leonard Kapsalis said there would be no further appeal.

"The court sidestepped the crux of our argument that Mr. Sabatino was disqualified from receiving extra cash-outs because he improperly and secretly crafted a bill to exempt himself from cuts that virtually every other [exempt] employee was subject to," Kapsalis said.