Ex-Saddle Rock clerk testifies she alerted auditors
The former Saddle Rock village clerk said she alerted auditors to fraudulent activities in the village by the mayor, during her testimony in a felony assault trial Thursday in Mineola.
Donna Perone, who served as village clerk from 1994 until this April, testified that she filed a fraud report with the village’s auditors over checks the village issued to a corporation, Next Capital Corp., that Mayor Dan Levy signed and cashed himself, for work that was not verified.
She also testified that Levy asked her to create invoices covering the work by Next Capital Corp. to provide to auditors in response to their request for documentation around the checks.
The testimony came during the trial of Sasha Masri, who is accused of assaulting Levy after a village meeting last October. Shortly before the alleged assault, Masri had been asking trustee David Schwartz about the village financials and audit when Levy began ridiculing Masri, according to Schwartz’s testimony earlier in the trial.
The defense contends Levy had a motive to stop Masri’s line of questioning that night for fear it would expose allegations of wrongdoing against Levy.
Assistant District Attorney Christine Geier questioned Perone on her relationship with Levy — Perone said it deteriorated after the audit — and questioned her memory of events during the alleged assault.
Perone testified she did not see blood on Levy after she heard the impact of the alleged assault, while Levy testified Masri hit him with keys in his hand and that he later saw a drop of blood on the keys. Masri faces a charge of assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon, a felony, based on the claim that he held keys while striking Levy.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Philip Grella allowed the checks and other items relating to the village’s finances into evidence, saying they were relevant, but cautioned that there was only one person on trial.
“It’s not my intention to turn this trial into a further trial or prosecution of the mayor or anyone else,” he said.
Defense attorney Bob McDonald began the day by asking that Levy’s testimony be stricken, saying Levy’s repeated taking of the Fifth Amendment when asked questions relating to the audit kept Masri from adequately defending himself.
“When he [Levy] does that, he is denying the defense the ability to question this witness on a germane and crucial issue,” McDonald said. “If all the testimony of the mayor is stricken, the people will not be able to make the case.”
Geier argued against McDonald’s request, saying Levy’s injuries from the incident were well-documented.
“The evidence supports every charge,” Geier said.
Grella denied McDonald’s request, adding that even if Levy’s testimony were stricken, there was enough other evidence for the district attorney’s office to make its case.
Cross-examination of Perone is scheduled to continue Monday.