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Gerard Terry, ex-Dem leader, arrested on new tax fraud charges

Gerard Terry appears at the Nassau County Courthouse

Gerard Terry appears at the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola after his arrest on new charges of tax fraud on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. Terry, who was charged with felony tax fraud in April, now faces an indictment on two counts of failure to file a tax return for tax years 2010 and 2015, his attorney said. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Former North Hempstead Democratic Party leader Gerard Terry was arraigned on seven new felony tax fraud charges Wednesday for not filing a state tax return or under-reporting his income in his returns.

Terry also was arraigned Wednesday on an April charge of not filing a state return, bringing the total number of tax fraud charges against the political operative to eight.

He surrendered to the Nassau district attorney’s office Wednesday morning and was arraigned on two charges from a Nassau County grand jury indictment of third-degree tax fraud for failure to file a tax return in 2010 and 2015.

Later Wednesday, Terry was arraigned at First District Court in Hempstead on six felony charges: three for omitting earned income in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and three for “offering a false instrument for filing.”

Terry, 62, of Roslyn Heights declined to comment as he left the courthouse in Hempstead. Stephen Scaring, his Garden City-based attorney, said Terry had subsequently filed the 2010 and 2015 returns, but did not specify when.

Terry was first taken into custody April 12 and charged with felony tax fraud for not filing a return in 2010. Prosecutors said in court at that time that additional charges were possible and that they had filed only the 2010 charge to avoid an expiring statute of limitations.

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement issued after Wednesday’s arraignments that Terry “has made hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayer-funded government contracts, yet despite his very public commitment to file and pay required taxes, he has allegedly continued to shirk his state tax obligations.”

Terry filed “some” state personal income tax returns between 2000 and 2015 after an investigation was conducted into his filings, but hasn’t made any of the payments due, the district attorney’s office said in a news release.

Prosecutors said that investigators found evidence that Terry “failed to report thousands of dollars of income” on his state income tax returns.

Newsday reported on Jan. 31 that Terry had compiled a state and federal income tax debt of nearly $1.4 million while being paid more than $217,000 in 2015 in six public attorney positions: the North Hempstead Zoning Board of Appeals; North Hempstead Town attorney’s office; the Nassau County Board of Elections’ Democratic commissioner; Freeport Community Development Agency; Roosevelt Public Library; and the Long Beach Housing Authority. Terry resigned or was removed from five of the six positions. Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said Wednesday that Terry’s contract expires Aug. 31.

Singas noted Terry’s public statement made in January amid Newsday inquiries acknowledging the unpaid taxes and pledging to repay them.

Wednesday’s charges continued a rapid fall from power for Terry, who had influenced Democratic politics at the state and local levels, weighing in on the selection of candidates for judgeships and U.S. Congress.

Acting Supreme Court Justice David Sullivan, who presided over the grand jury arraignment, said he had known Terry “politically” but could be a “fair” and “impartial” judge in the hearing. Terry is due back in court Sept. 27.

Terry’s arrest led to changes in North Hempstead Town’s ethics laws, with town officials acknowledging they had not collected Terry’s financial disclosure form — a requirement for town party leaders — for 25 years. The town is now enforcing that law and enacted a new one: that outside contractors who advise town boards also file financial disclosure forms.

Terry’s wife, Concetta Terry, resigned from her position as North Hempstead’s deputy town clerk after the ethics board cited her for failing to disclose her own debts.

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