Suffolk County Legislator-elect Nicholas Caracappa was arrested late Tuesday at his Selden home on domestic violence-related charges, officials said Wednesday.
Caracappa, 53, who was elected Nov. 3 to represent Suffolk’s 4th Legislative District, faces first-degree criminal contempt and criminal obstruction of breathing, officials said.
He was detained overnight and arraigned virtually early Wednesday in front of Suffolk County District Judge James Saladino, who released Caracappa on his own recognizance. Caracappa is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 21.
Caracappa declined to comment Wednesday but his attorney, Thomas Campagna of Hauppauge, said the charges stem from a dispute with Caracappa’s estranged wife, who falsely told Suffolk police that the legislator-elect had choked her.
"I believe he will be vindicated when he appears before a judge," said Campagna, who called the allegation "100% untrue."
Campagna said Caracappa plans to serve in the legislature after he is sworn in on Jan. 4. Caracappa was elected to fill a vacancy left after the death of Legis. Tom Muratore earlier this year. The term ends in 2021.
"He was duly elected and as we have unfortunately (seen) with other legislators — or in this case legislator-elect — we will afford people their (due) process to the courts," said Presiding Officer Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue). "And if he chooses to be sworn in and fulfill his term, which is the remainder of Muratore’s through the end of (next) year, that’s his legal right to do so."
Caracappa was elected on the Conservative Party ticket and is set to be sworn in Jan. 4 for the rest of Muratore’s term and is expected to caucus with Republicans. Suffolk Republican Party chairman Jesse Garcia agreed that Caracappa should be sworn in.
"This is a private family matter and all our thoughts and prayers are with the Caracappa family during this difficult time," Garcia said.
Caracappa comes from a family that has long served in county politics.
Caracappa’s mother, Rose, held the 4th Legislative District seat until her death in 1995. His brother, Joseph, filled the seat until he was forced to step down due to term limits in 2007.
"I’ve known Nick and his family for a number of years. I’m sad to hear of any domestic issues between him and his wife and I hope they resolve whatever’s going on," Suffolk Democratic Party chairman Rich Schaffer said. "I would ask people to not jump to judgment and allow Nick to deal with the personal issues."
Caracappa had been a Suffolk County Water Authority maintenance worker for 34 years and served as president of Local 393 Utility Workers Union of America. He has also served as a trustee for the utility union’s national executive board.
Caracappa was also a member of the Middle Country Central School District board of education for seven years.
Two sitting Suffolk legislators — Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport) and Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Shirley) — also face criminal charges.
Spencer was arrested in October after he allegedly tried to trade drugs for sexual favors. Spencer, a physician, was arrested Oct. 20 after he attempted to trade oxycodone pills for sex with a woman he thought was a sex worker, Suffolk County prosecutors said.
Spencer has pleaded not guilty.
Sunderman, meanwhile, was indicted last year on perjury charges for allegedly lying on a financial disclosure form and to the County Board of Ethics while under oath about hs position at the Centereach Fire District. Sunderman has said the allegations are untrue and vowed to remain in office.