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Developer at center of Dale case doesn't see it as election issue

Gary Melius, owner of Oheka Castle in Huntington,

Gary Melius, owner of Oheka Castle in Huntington, sits in his office at the estate. (October 14, 2010) (Credit: Newsday/Jesse Newman)

Gary Melius knows that his name may often be mentioned in the upcoming 4th Congressional District campaign, but he doesn’t understand why.

The Oheka Castle owner was at the center of the political-influence case last year that led to the resignation of former Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale, and county Democratic leaders continue to complain that no official involved has faced criminal charges.

But Melius, who made the initial call to Dale to request a perjury charge against a witness in the ballot petition case, said this week that he hopes Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs and his allies, including potential 4th district candidate Kevan Abrahams, move onto other issues.

"Why keep mentioning this thing?" Melius said in an interview Tuesday.

Jacobs has criticized District Attorney Kathleen Rice, a fellow Democrat and 4th district candidate, for not charging Dale or Melius with a crime. Dale – an appointee of Republican County Executive Edward Mangano – ordered the witness’ arrest on an unrelated $250 warrant, the DA's investigation found.

Democrats allege that the county executive candidacy Melius sought to protect with his call to Dale was meant to siphon votes from their party’s executive hopeful, and help Mangano.

Rice has said her decision not to charge Dale with a crime ignored politics, and focused only on the facts.

“What does this have to do with Kathleen? She investigated it and then the commissioner resigned,” Melius said. “What more does (Jacobs) want with her? Make her charge someone with a crime that they didn’t do?”

The race to replace retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) has yet to fully materialize, as Nassau Republicans have yet to name a candidate. But on the Democratic side, Rice has the backing of McCarthy and national Democrats, while Abrahams, the county legislative minority leader, is raising money to see if he can run a primary against Rice.

Abrahams has yet to indicate whether he’ll raise the Melius-Dale case as an issue in a potential primary, but Jacobs on Tuesday said that he’s staying out of the race, and even though he won’t drop his calls for criminal charges in the Dale case, “I’m not interested in doing anything purposefully to hurt Kathleen’s chances to become a member of Congress.

“And I’m not advising (Abrahams) to make anything in particular an issue,” Jacobs added.

Melius, an Independence Party member who has long given money to local elected officials of both parties, said he likes and respects Abrahams, but believes that Rice stands a better chance at election due to her wider name recognition. Melius and members of his immediate family have donated $12,500 to Rice in recent years, and $3,550 to Abrahams, records show.

While Rice has many donors who have given her state campaign as much money or more, Melius is one of only three people who has given Abrahams single contributions of more than $1,000 on multiple occasions, records show.

When asked if he expected Abrahams to attack Rice’s handling of the Dale case, Melius said he hoped not, repeating, “what does it have to do with Congress?”

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