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Sources: Several indicted in Oyster Bay corruption probe

Fom left, former Supervisor John Venditto, former planning

Fom left, former Supervisor John Venditto, former planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito, and former public works Commissioner Frank Antetomaso, are pictured. Credit: James Carbone

A special grand jury has voted to indict several people in connection with the Nassau County district attorney’s monthslong investigation into corruption in the Town of Oyster Bay, according to sources with knowledge of the case.

An out-of-town judge is scheduled to unseal an indictment Thursday in a Mineola courtroom that sources said details charges against multiple parties, including former Town Supervisor John Venditto, a Republican who also has been charged in a separate federal corruption indictment.

In a statement Tuesday night, Venditto’s attorney told Newsday his client would enter a not-guilty plea Thursday.

“He is a stellar family man and a great champion to the people of Oyster Bay,” said Manhattan-based defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo. “It is unfortunate that instead of enjoying his family and accomplishments that he must defend these allegations. But he will, and he will prevail.”

Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for District Attorney Madeline Singas, declined to comment Tuesday.

The indictment also names former town public works Commissioner Frank Antetomaso, 77, of Massapequa, and ex-town planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito, who died earlier this month at age 78 in federal prison after the special grand jury already had voted, sources said.

Ippolito had been serving a sentence of 27 months following his guilty plea in January 2016 in U.S. District Court in Central Islip to evading taxes in connection with $2 million in outside consulting fees he collected while working as a town commissioner.

The Nassau indictment comes after February’s seating of the special grand jury that followed an investigation by Singas’ office that sources said included the wiretapping of Venditto’s campaign office.

The electronic surveillance lasted about six months and, as Newsday previously reported, also included the wiretapping of Venditto’s cellphone along with those of Antetomaso and Ippolito.

The $2 million at issue in Ippolito’s federal case came from Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving Inc. — a contractor that did business with the town and for which Ippolito previously worked — as well as from the Lizza family trust, according to federal prosecutors.

The Nassau indictment names the paving company, along with its president and CEO Elia Aly Lizza, 69, and his wife, Marisa Lizza, 61, both of Oyster Bay Cove, sources said.

The Old Bethpage-based company has gotten at least $100 million in publicly bid county work since 2002, and millions of dollars in road contracts from Oyster Bay in recent years.

Garden City attorney John Carman, a lawyer for the Lizzas, declined to comment, as did attorney Joseph Conway of Mineola, who represents Antetomaso.

Brian Griffin, the Garden City lawyer who represented Ippolito, said that “any indictment that charges Mr. Ippolito, who is deceased, is not only legally moot, unfair and malicious, but also a gross misuse of taxpayer time and money.”

He added: “Although Mr. Ippolito may have passed away, his estate will take all appropriate legal action to hold the government accountable for any baseless charges should they be filed.”

Venditto, 68, a Republican from North Massapequa who stepped down in January from the elected post he had held since 1998, has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges that last October also ensnared Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda. The Manganos also have pleaded not guilty. A federal judge previously set a tentative trial date for January 2018.

In that case, federal authorities have alleged Venditto and Edward Mangano took bribes from a Long Island restaurant owner in exchange for Nassau County contracts and the Town of Oyster Bay guaranteeing millions in loans. They face charges including conspiracy, bribery and honest services wire fraud.

The restaurateur, whom sources previously identified to Newsday as Harendra Singh, allegedly gave Linda Mangano a lucrative, no-show job. She faces charges that include conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements in that case.

Along with Ippolito, Antetomaso was among three Republicans who were Oyster Bay’s top power brokers from the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s while serving as the town’s public works commissioner.

Antetomaso then became a partner in Mineola engineering consulting firm Sidney B. Bowne & Son — which also has done work for the town and the county.

The indictment follows a successful 2015 election campaign in which Singas, a Democrat and a career prosecutor in her first term of public office, ran largely on a promise to fight corruption.

A Westchester judge will preside over Thursday’s arraignments and the case itself, according to sources, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

With Celeste Hadrick and Robert E. Kessler

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