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Appeals court vacates Frederick Ippolito conviction, citing death

Former Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner Frederick Ippolito

Former Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner Frederick Ippolito leaves Federal Court after sentencing in Central Islip, Sept. 28, 2016. Credit: Ed Betz

A federal appellate court has vacated the conviction of Frederick Ippolito, the former Town of Oyster Bay planning commissioner who pleaded guilty to tax charges last year, because he died in June while appealing his conviction.

The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued its one-page decision Tuesday.

“Upon due consideration, it is hereby ordered that the motion is granted and Appellant’s judgment of conviction, including the accompanying special assessment and order of restitution, is vacated,” the court stated.

Prosecutors did not oppose the motion that eliminates the conviction under the legal doctrine of “abatement by death.”

“It was a tragedy that he died in prison for a sentence that we felt was unfair based upon his health,” said Robert LaRusso of Mineola, Ippolito’s attorney. “The reversal, though mostly mandated by law, gives the family some measure of mercy.”

Ippolito, 78, of Syosset, was sentenced last year to 27 months in prison after pleading guilty in January 2016 to federal tax evasion charges in connection with $2 million in outside consulting fees he received while working as the town’s planning and development commissioner.

The money came from Carlo Lizza & Sons, a paving contractor that did business with the town, as well as from the Lizza family trust, according to prosecutors.

In addition to the prison sentence, the judge also required three years of supervised release and nearly $550,000 in restitution.

The one-time power broker died in June while in custody at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts.

Convictions for both Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots player convicted of murder who hanged himself in a Massachusetts prison in April, and former state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous (R-Binghamton), who was convicted of lying to the FBI and died in 2016, were similarly vacated. Both died while their convictions were being appealed.

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