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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

The fall of former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto

Former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto

Former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto at the Nassau County Courthouse where he took a plea on Friday, in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

It was 10:11 a.m. Friday when John Venditto, who served as Oyster Bay town supervisor for two decades, rose from the back of a courtroom in Mineola, where he was surrounded by family, to once more make his way to a criminal defendant's table.

He'd done so last year, almost every day for almost three months, before a jury acquitted him of all charges in a separate federal corruption-related case in Central Islip.

This time would be different.

Venditto was going to plead guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor count for standing back and allowing corruption to stain the town he'd been elected to serve.

And as part of an agreement between prosecutors in Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas' office and Venditto's defense attorneys, his penalty for those crimes would include zero jail time, but court costs totaling $625.

"How old are you, sir," state Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood, a judge from Westchester who is handling corruption-related cases being prosecuted by Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas, asked at one point.

"Seventy," Venditto answered, as his attorney, Marc Agnifilo of Manhattan, placed a protective arm across Venditto's back.

"You can sit down," Wood said, before continuing.

Venditto responded clearly to each of Wood's queries about whether he understood the implications of the plea, and whether he was satisfied with Agnifilo's counsel.

Asked whether he understood the limitations of any appeal of the judge's handling of the case, Venditto said, "I understand it fully, your honor.

A few minutes later, Venditto, reading loudly — and very, very quickly — from a prepared statement, described his role in the crimes to which he was pleading.

In elaborating on the felony count tied to allegations that Venditto pushed to get a town parks worker hired at an inflated salary, Venditto acknowledged he indeed had become involved, " … at the request of my friend, Frederick Ippolito." Venditto was referring to Oyster Bay's former planning commissioner who died in a federal prison after his conviction on tax-related charges.

"But for my involvement," Venditto said, the worker " … would not have been hired by the Town of Oyster Bay."

In elaborating on the misdemeanor count of official misconduct, Venditto acknowledged he had advanced and voted for a real estate project in which, "I was aware that Frederick Ippolito had a financial interest in that approval."

His actions, "created a conflict of interest," Venditto said.

Once the hearing had ended, Venditto, returned to his family in the courtroom — until court officers were ready to take him elsewhere to take a swab of his DNA, which will be entered into a database.

Then it was off to another floor of the courthouse, where Venditto was expected to hand over a credit card to satisfy court fees.

Meanwhile, a group of reporters and photographers waited outside the courtroom for Venditto to step before the cameras to make a statement.

He didn't. (But listen to SoundCloud audio clip to hear Agnifilo elaborate on why Friday's plea deal served justice.) 

Instead, the former town supervisor and felon made his way quickly out of the back employee entrance and around a corner.

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