The lawyer appointed to investigate the Suffolk County Ethics Commission's handling of Executive Steve Levy's financial disclosures is the former chief federal prosecutor on Long Island who handled high-profile cases ranging from a doctor who killed his patients to a fraudulent owner of the Islanders.

The Suffolk County Legislature's selection of Joseph Conway, 51, now a prominent defense attorney in Mineola, drew high praise from his former colleagues in the Eastern District U.S. attorney's office and from defense attorneys who both work with him now and whose clients once were prosecuted by him.

"Joseph Conway is a consummate professional with the background, character and experience to conduct a fair and impartial investigation," said Richard Haley, an Islandia defense attorney. "His integrity is beyond reproach."

Gary Brown, who was Conway's deputy at the U.S. attorney's office, says his former colleague "has the great instincts and superior investigative skills, and at the same time he is unequivocally evenhanded and fair." Brown is now senior vice president of CA Technologies, the company formerly known as Computer Associates.

As a federal prosecutor, Conway headed the team that investigated one of the largest cases of political corruption in Long Island history - the BPA insurance scandal in the late 1990s which cost Nassau County $70 million and resulted in the convictions of a number of people, including former Chief Deputy County Executive Robert McDonald and former Suffolk Republican Party head William Blake.

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Conway also successfully prosecuted John Spano, who fraudulently took brief control of the Islanders, and Michael Swango, the physician convicted of murdering three of his patients at the Northport VA Medical Center.

Conway left the U.S. attorney's office in 2004 to start the Mineola law firm of LaRusso and Conway. Since then he has represented a number of high-profile clients, including lawyers involved in the school pension scandal; Lindsay Lohan's uncle, Paul Sullivan; and Adam Kidan, an associate of disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Conway is a member of the Independence Party.

Before joining the U.S. attorney's office, Conway attended St. John's University and Brooklyn Law School, both at night. He paid for his education by working as clerk and then served as a law clerk for former U.S. District Court Judge Mark Costantino.

In private life, Conway, who grew up in Flushing, has been active as both a coach and executive in his local CYO and Little Leagues, even after his children went to college.