A federal judge in Central Islip on Thursday set Feb. 25 as the tentative date for the start of Hempstead Town Board member Edward Ambrosino’s tax-evasion trial.
Ambrosino, a Republican who has served on the board since 2003, is charged with income-tax evasion and wire fraud for failing to share with his former law firm $800,000 of the $1.3 million he made while also working for two county agencies, according to federal prosecutors. Ambrosino was supposed to get only a small percentage of the money back from the law firm, prosecutors say.
The law firm was not named in the indictment, but sources have identified it as Ruskin Moscou Faltischek of Uniondale.
The Nassau County agencies were the Industrial Development Agency and the Local Economic Assistance Corp., according to federal prosecutors.
Instead of sharing the income, between 2013 and 2015, Ambrosino siphoned off the money into a shell company he set up as part of an intricate scheme, the prosecutors said in court papers.
Ambrosino, 54, of North Valley Stream, then filed false income-tax returns for the shell company, both underreporting the diverted money and claiming business expenses for rental payments for a Manhattan apartment. The apartment actually had been set up for an unidentified third party, the prosecutors said.
Ambrosino has pleaded not guilty.
During Thursday’s hearing, Ambrosino’s attorney, James Druker of Garden City, repeated a possible defense for the wire fraud charge that he has previously stated, saying that the law firm was not entitled to the money. Druker said that the situation involved not a crime, but rather a business dispute that should have been resolved in civil court.
Druker and Eastern District federal prosecutor Catherine Mirabile declined to comment after the hearing.