Mixing politics, government?

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A Democratic political operative, while paid by Nassau

as a $25-an-hour seasonal clerk, e-mailed County Executive Thomas Suozzi a

strategy memo for his "Fix Albany" campaign and attended the 2004 Democratic

National Convention in Boston on county time with Suozzi, according to court

testimony yesterday.

Attorney Dominick Porco, representing clerk Shomwa Shamapande, grilled

former Deputy County Executive Michael Klein yesterday about the e-mail and

about meetings among his client, Suozzi and Klein during the political

convention that July.

Shamapande is on trial in State Supreme Court in Nassau, charged with

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bilking $12,000 in pay he received for days he did not work from March through

May 2005. Klein, who hired and supervised Shamapande, testified Monday that his

signature was copied on the six time sheets Shamapande submitted during that

period.

But yesterday lawyers stipulated that Klein's signature also had been

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copied on most of Shampande's time sheets in 2004 and 2005. Newsday reported

last year that Klein's signature appeared to be duplicated on 25 Shamapande

time sheets - not just the six in question. The county requires supervisors to

sign and date the record of their employees' work hours.

Judge Alan Honorof, however, limited any questioning about time sheets

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other than the six at issue.

Porco maintains that Shamapande, who had worked as a political consultant

for state and national Democrats, was hired in 2003 to provide political

assistance to Suozzi, then eying a run for governor. He contends Shamapande's

county work was no different in 2005 than in 2004.

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Klein testified that he warned Shamapande against mixing politics with

government, but Porco seeks to show that part of Shamapande's duties was

political assistance - and Klein knew it.

Porco asked if Klein remembered an e-mail Shamapande sent to him, with

copies to Suozzi, and Suozzi's political consultant Kim Devlin, at 12:03 p.m.

on Friday, July 23. The e-mail included a lengthy memo proposing strategies for

Suozzi's "Fix Albany" campaign.

"I remember receiving it," Klein said.

Klein also recalled seeing that evening the response Devlin sent Shamapande

at 3:32 p.m. that day: "Excellent document, Shomwa. Great ideas. We need to

figure out how to execute."

Klein also recalled a subsequent e-mail from Suozzi about the memo.

The county told Newsday last year it could not find Shamapande's time sheet

for July 23, 2004. But payroll records show he was paid for working 103.4

hours during the two-week pay period that included that date.

Klein acknowledged that he and Suozzi had spent "a little bit" of time with

Shamapande at the Boston convention, but insisted Shamapande "was there on his

own." He said he thought Shamapande was credentialed through political

consultant Bill Lynch.

"Did you know he got paid for that?" Porco asked, referring to Shamapande.

"He should not have been paid for that," Klein replied.

Suozzi spokesman Joe Calderone said the county fired Shamapande as soon as

irregularities with his pay sheets were discovered.

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