Michael Fagen, ex-Long Beach councilman, gets 30-day sentence
Former Long Beach City Councilman Michael Fagen was taken away in handcuffs yesterday after he was sentenced to 30 days in jail in a larceny case.
Fagen, who had faced up to four years in prison, appeared in Nassau County Court in Mineola for sentencing before Justice Meryl Berkowitz. He will serve his jail sentence in the Nassau County Correctional Center.
Fagen, who was convicted after a jury trial in February, also got three years of probation for the petty larceny count and five years for the 18 felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing. He also was ordered to pay back $15,783.75 to the state Department of Labor for unemployment benefits he was convicted of stealing.
"This is a case that was about miscalculation," Fagen said, apologizing to the judge before his whispers became inaudible to the court audience.
"I realize that right now you feel defeated and hurt," Berkowitz said in response, before making her decision. "I think you have showed a great deal of strength . . . These allegations don't relate to your work, it relates to breaking the public trust."
Fagen's attorney, Marc Gann of Mineola, described his client as "a guy who tried to do good and made an incredible misjudgment. He has and will pay for his misfortune."
Fagen's cousin Susan Britt, a malpractice attorney based in Garden City, also unsuccessfully tried to convince the judge not to send him to jail.
"People like him shouldn't go to jail," Britt said. "Give him an opportunity to repair his broke life . . . Jail for whatever time you decide is not going to change anything. He will still be a good man."
The conviction stemmed from Fagen's collection of more than $15,000 in unemployment benefits in 2010, while he earned $19,828 a year as a city councilman.
"This is a case in which the defendant . . . knowingly and intentionally falsely reported on unemployment for nine months," said Assistant District Attorney Marshall Trager, chief of the government and consumer fraud bureau, who was seeking a six-month sentence. "He had no reservation about stealing funds."
Fagen was scheduled to be sentenced on April 8, but the date was pushed back as both parties worked on a full restitution agreement.
Long Beach removed Fagen from office after he was convicted.
"The guy is remorseful," Gann said. "I don't think his intent was really to steal."