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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

LI corruption cases keep two grand juries busy

Edward Walsh, Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman, attends

Edward Walsh, Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman, attends a reception in support of Anthony S. Senft Jr.'s campaign for New York State Senate, on March 19, 2014. Credit: Newsday

For the first time in memory, two criminal grand juries are digging into allegations of public corruption on Long Island.

A special grand jury in Suffolk has the task of examining how hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic debris came to be dumped in or near the Town of Islip.

Newsday has reported that dumping continued at one site, Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, even after Islip employees reported seeing dump trucks on the property -- and that the owners of the company cited by Islip as responsible for the dumping were political donors.

All of which leaves grand jurors to untangle any potential links between politics, government and money.

The grand jury in Brooklyn began its work after Suffolk's sheriff turned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation with allegations that Lt. Edward Walsh -- Suffolk's Conservative Party leader -- may have been collecting salary for time he did not work.

But the investigation, according to a Newsday report, has blossomed to include examination of possible illegality in how Suffolk judges are selected, and the business activities of politically connected figures such as Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius.

That's a lot to look at.

Over the past several months, there have been multiple other Newsday stories that also ought to give residents pause.

There's no grand jury looking specifically at these, but Long Islanders certainly ought to.

What about the politically connected secretary for Nassau's county executive who moved over to a new job -- with a $95,000 raise -- at Nassau University Medical Center, a public benefit corporation which is struggling financially?

Or the Smithtown council member who cast the deciding vote on his own $30,000 raise, before reversing course under public pressure?

Then there's the stalled appointment of the executive director of the Industrial Development Agency in Suffolk, following stories that the nominee may have been overpaid by as much as $125,000 as Babylon Town Democratic Party leader.

Yesterday, Newsday reported that Islip Conservative Party leader Michael Torres, who couldn't get a public job at Suffolk's sheriffs department because of a criminal conviction, managed to grab a more lucrative, six-figure post at the county Board of Elections. The story also noted that Torres last year managed to get a town job, and another salary, by concealing the conviction.

It sounds like a litany of how things get done on Long Island. But that doesn't mean Long Island residents should accept it.

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