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Former Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino starts prison sentence for tax evasion

Former Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino attends a

Former Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino attends a board meeting after being indicted on tax evasion in April 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Former Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino has begun serving a 6-month prison sentence for tax evasion at the federal prison at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Ambrosino’s attorney said that his client surrendered Tuesday to the minimum security prison, after unsuccessfully trying to persuade the sentencing judge to allow him to serve his time in home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ambrosino's attorney, James Druker of Garden City, said his client had accepted his prison time, saying about the case: "He never complained … He never said he was a victim."

John Marzulli, a spokesman for Eastern District federal prosecutors, declined to comment.

Ambrosino, 56, of North Valley Stream, was originally charged by federal prosecutors in a complex scheme that included cheating his law firm out of money he was supposed to share from his legal practice.

In a plea deal, Ambrosino admitted to one count of tax evasion, and was also sentenced to three years' supervised release. He agreed to pay back $250,000 in federal taxes, $56,000 in state taxes, and to reimburse his former law firm more than $700,000.

In a short statement before his plea in April 2019, Ambrosino admitted that he "knowingly and intentionally" failed to report a large portion of his income in 2013 on his personal federal income tax return.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Ambrosino could have faced 24 to 30 months in prison, but while sentencing him in November, U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip said: "I’m giving you a substantial break," because she thought the lesser sentence was punishment enough.

In denying Ambrosino’s request for home confinement, Seybert said in April that if he wished, he could delay the start of serving his sentence, scheduled for June.

Ambrosino was a protégé of Nassau Republican leader Joseph Cairo, a longtime friend and partner in private investment with former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, as well as his special counsel. Mangano and his wife, Linda, are awaiting sentencing on federal corruption charges.

Ambrosino also had been counsel to the Republicans when they controlled the Nassau County Legislature. But when they became the minority party there in 2003, he was appointed to the Hempstead Town Council. He resigned from the council when he pleaded guilty.

In 2017, when Ambrosino was initially indicted, he was charged with wire fraud and eight counts revolving around failure to pay proper taxes for 2011, 2012 and 2013. The wire fraud count alone could call for a sentence of up to 20 years.

Eastern District prosecutor Catherine Mirabile said at the time that Ambrosino’s complicated scheme involved setting up a shell company to divert money owed to his law firm, failing to report all his earnings and claiming business expenses for the rent on a Manhattan apartment that was actually for an unidentified third party. Ambrosino knew the rental payments "were not business expenses," prosecutors said.

The Fort Dix prison, about 80 miles from Long Island, is inside the grounds of a military base.

There are no bars, and most prisoners sleep in dorms that are not locked. Prisoners are expected to work, and many are assigned to maintenance jobs, such as janitorial services and mowing the lawns.

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