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Appellate court upholds convictions of 3 ex-Nassau officials

Former Nassau County legislators Patrick Williams and Roger

Former Nassau County legislators Patrick Williams and Roger Corbin, and former head of the North Hempstead Community Development Agency Neville Mullings were sentenced to jail time for their roles in a failed $80 million redevelopment project in New Cassel more than a decade ago. Credit: Howard Schnapp

An appellate court on Thursday upheld the 2012 convictions of two former Democratic Nassau County legislators and an ex-North Hempstead Town official who were charged in a scheme to steer an $80 million New Cassel redevelopment project to a favored developer.

In three separate rulings, the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division unanimously rejected the appeals of Roger Corbin and Patrick Williams, both former county lawmakers, and Neville Mullings, who once ran the North Hempstead Community Development Agency.

The former officials filed separate appeals. They cited questions about evidence in the case and instructions delivered by prosecutors to the jury, and said their sentences were excessive.

The court said it reviewed the evidence against all three officials and in each case determined it was “legally sufficient” to establish their guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Appellate Division also said the sentences were not “excessive” and the remaining contentions “are without merit.”

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas, whose office filed briefs arguing to uphold the convictions, said Thursday that “instead of revitalizing the New Cassel community, these corrupt officials used their positions of power to line their own pockets. Public corruption is a scourge on our county and my office will continue to use every tool at our disposal to hold accountable anyone who violates the public’s trust.”

The former officials were indicted in 2010 after a three-year investigation of the New Cassel Redevelopment Project, created to revitalize the hamlet’s downtown corridor.

A Nassau jury convicted them in 2012 on charges they steered the project to a developer willing to “pay to play,” sold false exclusivity rights to a bank and stole $150,000 in public funds.

Corbin, of Westbury, was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison for official misconduct and accepting more than $200,000 in bribes.

Williams, of Uniondale, was sentenced to 1 year in jail for conspiracy.

Mullings, of Westbury, was sentenced to 9 months in jail for conspiracy and official misconduct.

A jury deadlocked on several other charges, which were later dismissed by the court at the request of prosecutors.

An appellate judge in 2014 granted sentence stays for all three men during their appeals.

Corbin, Williams and Mullings can now ask the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, to hear their cases. If the court rejects the appeal or declines to hear their case, the men would then begin serving their sentences.

Williams’ attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City, said he would file an immediate appeal with the Court of Appeals.

“The legal issues in this case are significant and wide-ranging,” Griffin said. “I am confident the court will hear the case on its merits.”

Mullings’ attorney, Frederick Brewington of Hempstead, said his client was “disappointed in the outcome” and was “still assessing” whether to appeal the decision.

Corbin’s attorney, Thomas Villecco, of Jericho, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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