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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Madeline Singas probe moves Nassau DA efforts into the light

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas speaks to

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas speaks to reporters at her office in Mineola, N.Y. in a Feb. 11, 2016 file photo. Credit: AP / Frank Eltman

Madeline Singas, the district attorney who promised Nassau residents that combating corruption would be the touchstone of her tenure, looks like she’s on the case.

Recently, a judge from Westchester traveled to the county seat in Mineola to swear in a special grand jury tasked with investigating public corruption in the Town of Oyster Bay.

That news, from a sourced report by Newsday’s Bridget Murphy, came down a little more than two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, some of the nuts and bolts of Singas’ investigation were revealed, according to another Newsday story.

From July to December 2016, there were wiretaps on the cellphones of three once-powerful town officials: former Supervisor John Venditto, former planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito and former public works Commissioner Frank Antetomaso.

The trio — none of whom have been charged with any crime by Nassau’s DA — are more than former town officials. They’re part of a Republican powerhouse that, in some form or fashion, has held sway for decades. Their roots run wide and deep, which was not necessarily a bad thing for a town that for a long time prided itself on tight, constituent-centered governance.

Venditto, who has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges, ended up resigning in disgrace in January; his trial is scheduled for next year.

Ippolito, who last year was convicted of income tax-evasion related to $2 million in outside consulting income he earned while working for the town, is serving time in a federal prison in Massachusetts. Antetomaso became a partner in a engineering consultant firm that works for the town and county.

Oyster Bay, meanwhile, is struggling to boost its junk-bond rating — an embarrassing low, which could also be applied to the level of public trust and confidence in town government.

Federal investigations into allegations of corruption in Oyster Bay and other Long Island municipalities are continuing.

News of the local grand jury pulls the DA’s own corruption-related endeavors into the light for the first time.

And news of the wiretaps offers some indication of how aggressive Singas’ probe is. More than 60 people were sent legally mandated notices that their conversations with the three former officials had been intercepted, sources told Newsday.

It will take vigilance and, where merited, aggressive and successful prosecution if what seems to be an ingrained culture of corruption on Long Island is to change.

It remains to be seen whether Singas’ investigations yield results. But she pledged to a fight against corruption — and has until Election Day in November 2019 to make good on the promise.

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