Longtime Hempstead Town Board member Edward Ambrosino was arrested Friday and charged with income-tax evasion and wire fraud for failing to pay more than $250,000 in federal taxes on income — most of which came from Nassau County jobs, federal prosecutors said.
Ambrosino, a Republican, is a lawyer in private practice and has served on the town board since 2003. He currently is general counsel for Nassau County’s Industrial Development Agency and Local Economic Assistance Corp. He also has served as special counsel to Republican County Executive Edward Mangano.
Prosecutors said the investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service found that Ambrosino, who specializes in economic and industrial development and financing, failed to forward $800,000 of his $1.3 million in earnings from the two county agencies to his former Uniondale law firm, which was not named in the indictment. Multiple sources identified the firm as Ruskin Moscou Faltischek.
Ambrosino, 52, of North Valley Stream, was obligated to pass all those earnings onto the firm and receive a small percentage of it back as compensation, the prosecutors said in an indictment.
But instead, from 2013 to 2015 Ambrosino ran a complex scheme to siphon off most of the money to a shell company he had set up, the prosecutors Catherine Mirabile and Raymond Tierney said.
Prosecutors alleged that Ambrosino then filed fraudulent corporate tax returns on the shell company, underreporting the money he had actually diverted and claiming business expenses for the rental payments on a Manhattan apartment he had set up for an unidentified third party.
Ambrosino knew the rental payments “were not business expenses,” the prosecutors said in the indictment.
At a hearing in federal court in Central Islip Friday, Ambrosino pleaded not guilty to the charges, which also included filing false corporate returns, and was released on $250,000 bond. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Both Ambrosino and his attorney, Dennis Lemke, declined to comment after the hearing. But earlier in the day, Lemke said: “I believe the case revolves around Mr. Ambrosino’s tax returns that he has already amended. If he was ‘Ed Public’ rather than ‘Ed Politician,’ ” we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
A spokesman for Mangano — a longtime Ambrosino friend who himself is facing federal corruption charges — didn’t respond Friday to a request for comment about the indictment.
Hempstead Town spokesman Michael Deery declined to comment on the charges, saying only that the town has “not received a letter of resignation” from Ambrosino.
A representative for the Ruskin Moscou Faltischek firm could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Laurie Bloom, a spokeswoman for Ambrosino’s current law firm, Uniondale-based Rivkin Radler, said in a statement: “This matter is of a personal nature which occurred long before Mr. Ambrosino was affiliated with this firm. It would be inappropriate for us to comment.” She declined to say what his current status is with Rivkin Radler — where Mangano had worked before becoming county executive.
Joseph J. Kearney, executive director of both the Nassau County IDA and the local economic assistance corporation, said Ambrosino’s future as counsel for each group would be determined by their boards of directors.
“As of today, he is still employed,” Kearney said on Friday. “His employment status was ratified by a board decision, and the board is reviewing his status and will come to a decision in due course.”
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Bridget Rohde said in a statement: “Today’s indictment is a reminder of the obvious: that public officials are not exempt from paying their fair share of taxes and otherwise complying with the laws of the United States, just like any other citizen.”
With Celeste Hadrick, Paul LaRocco, James T. Madore and William Murphy