NIFA approves more county funding to Mondello law firm

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A NIFA board today approved Nassau County's 2014 A NIFA board today approved Nassau County's 2014 budget, but the stamp of approval came with an ultimatum. Photo Credit: News 12 Long Island

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The Nassau Interim Finance Authority has approved increased funding for two contracts that the county has with a Garden City law firm affiliated with county Republican chairman Joseph Mondello.

At its final meeting of the year, NIFA's board last night OK’d amendments to the existing contracts between the Republican controlled county and Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy & Fenchel, for which Mondello is “of counsel” – meaning he is neither a partner nor an associate, but has a close and regular relationship with the firm.

The amendments provide the firm an additional $375,000, bringing the total of the two approved contracts to $1.1 million. Under the contracts, Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy & Fenchel is representing Nassau in five different lawsuits, for which the NIFA board did not publicly provide details.

Speaking generally, NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman said that the county attorney’s office has repeatedly submitted contracts with outside firms on short notice, and after work has already commenced.

“We’ve been through this over and over again,” Kaiman said. “If we impose additional restrictions or conditions, that might not be a bad idea, either.”

Jeremy Wise, NIFA’s legal counsel, said that while Nassau’s outside counsel contracts “often come in late or over-budget,” the amendments approved on Monday -- including four others totaling $635,000 -- “all seem to be for worthwhile purposes.”

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