Lawmaker levels ethics charges against Levy

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy (Sept. 20, 2010)

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy (Sept. 20, 2010) (Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin)

A Suffolk County legislator is charging that County Executive Steve Levy may have had improper access to confidential county Ethics Commission information, which would be a violation of the law.

Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) submitted a sworn statement outlining his allegations to Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), chairman of a special legislative committee investigating the Ethics Commission. The committee has hired a special counsel to lead its inquiry and is scheduled to hold its first hearing Wednesday.

At issue is Gregory's contention that Levy knew he was late in filing. Gregory said an employee told him Levy knew about another county legislator who had also missed the filing deadline. By law, anyone late in filing the form is notified by the Ethics Commission and given the chance to file, and that notice is confidential. Unauthorized disclosure of information from a county financial disclosure form, which is date-stamped, is a violation of county law.

Levy's office said the information was attained through the Freedom of Information Law.

Mark Smith, a Levy spokesman, called the lawmaker's sworn statement part of a "stream of paranoid delusional rants that you issue through press release," adding, "your tirades are laced with mangled thoughts, little or no substance and nearly incomprehensible rhetoric." Smith threatened legal action against Gregory if he didn't retract his statement.

Gregory stood by his account. "I have submitted my sworn statement under threat of perjury," he said.

In an interview, Gregory said that in June, shortly after Newsday reported that Levy had been filing a state financial disclosure form rather than the more extensive county form, a commission secretary called Gregory to tell him to submit his own form because he missed the May 15 deadline. After he filed and as he was waiting for a copy, on June 17, he said a county employee approached him and told him that Levy knew another legislator, Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon), also was late and that Levy would "make examples" of Horsley and others, Gregory said.

Gregory identified the employee in his sworn statement, but declined to release the name to Newsday.

Dan Aug, another Levy spokesman, said in an e-mail: "Any information we had regarding Legislator Gregory's late filings was obtained through the Freedom of Information Law." Aug said his office never knew Gregory filed late until records were obtained legally "and any statement to the contrary is a fabrication."

Gregory said he hadn't realized he was late in filing until the commission secretary, Daina Sindone, called him. "It was an oversight," he said. Sindone declined to comment.

Horsley said in an interview that Ethics Commission Director Alfred Lama called his office on June 16 to tell him his form was late. Horsley said he had filed the form via certified mail a month early, and that Sindone later called to say his form had been filed on time. Lama did not return calls.

In filing his sworn statement, Gregory said he wants to "ensure that all facts are under review to present the clearest picture possible of the actions of the Ethics Commission." Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) has said Levy told him he would reveal information from Cooper's financial disclosure if he voted to hire a special counsel for the committee. Levy denied Cooper's claim.

Lindsay said he had received Gregory's sworn statement and turned it over to the committee's special counsel, Joseph Conway.

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