Levy, as exec, gave law firm legal work

The law firm that former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has joined received $147,450 in fees for county legal work awarded to them while he was in office.

The Bohemia-based firm, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, has defended the county in 20 lawsuits since 2008 in accident cases involving the county bus system, county records show.

On Monday, Levy said the county had not hired the firm while he was county executive. But Tuesday he said he was referring specifically to the county's lawsuit over the MTA payroll tax, which a state Supreme Court judge last week declared unconstitutional.

"I was answering the question in the context of the MTA suit," Levy said.

Levy called Newsday early Tuesday, before a reporter's inquiries about legal work the firm performed for the county, to clarify the "miscommunication." In a message, Levy said the firm had done "a few bus [accident] cases way back when."

Levy was in office from 2004-11. In 2008, the law firm handled seven cases for a total of $5,052. They earned $18,254 in 2009; $28,708 in 2010; and $66,621 in 2011. Since Democrat Steve Bellone became county executive in January, the firm has gotten no new cases but has continued work on 11 unresolved lawsuits, administration officials said. The firm has billed Suffolk $28,813 so far this year.

Levy, a Republican, said the firm's past county work played no role in his joining the Campolo law firm. Levy said the county paid $125 to $150 an hour for accident cases, and that County Attorney Christine Malafi made the appointments. "There were not too many firms that wanted to do the work at that price," Levy said.

Asked about the firm's county work during Levy's tenure, Legis. Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon), deputy legislative presiding officer, said "what comes to mind is that Mr. Levy, who calls himself a proponent of ethics, comes right out of the box dealing with a firm that did business with the county."

However, Horsley said it was unlikely that Levy is violating the county's new ethics law because he has not appeared before any county boards or agencies on issues he was involved in as county executive.

In response to Horsley's comments, Levy said the law firm will "not be taking any cases against the county."

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