A year after North Hempstead Town officials expanded the number of employees who must submit to annual financial disclosure statements, nine people have missed the deadline.
The town law, created in March 2016, requires 250 employees to file financial disclosure forms by May 15. Among the disclosure items required are financial interests, outside employment, debts, and interests in contracts. Individuals must also list family members who work for the town.
The disclosures are part of a series of sweeping ethics reforms enacted after the revelation that former town Democratic chairman and Zoning Board of Appeals attorney Gerard Terry had $1.4 million in debts. Terry, 62, is facing state tax fraud charges and federal charges of income tax evasion and obstruction. He is also being investigated for “kickback, bid rigging and other procurement fraud schemes in Nassau County,” according to court documents.
The town previously required a smaller selection of employees to file the disclosures, including town party leaders and elected officials. Newsday reported last year that the board had not enforced a decades-old requirement that town party leaders file disclosure forms.
Under the law, now in its second year, contractors and employees who hold policymaking positions must also file disclosures. Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth called financial disclosure “an important part of avoiding any conflict of interest in Town operations” and that the town’s new law required the Board of Ethics to report any conflicts identified in the reports.
Councilmember Anna Kaplan said ignoring the financial disclosure requirements by town code was “inexcusable.”
“The residents of North Hempstead are entitled to know if people serving in their town government have potential conflicts of interest,” Kaplan said.
Town spokeswoman Carole Trottere would not identify the employees who missed the deadline. The Board of Ethics can extend the deadline by 15 days, after which penalties are incurred.
Councilmember Dina De Giorgio said officials needed to learn why those employees had missed the deadline. Enforcement of the law is key, she said.
“It certainly could be a red flag if they don’t need help or if they’re unsure of what to do,” De Giorgio said. “If they’re just ignoring their responsibilities that’s a problem.”
The filing requirements go in tandem with the town’s March revisions to its ethics code and adoption of an anti-nepotism policy.
The ethics reforms prohibit employees from accepting private jobs and from having a personal interest in town contracts.
The anti-nepotism laws ban relatives of elected officials from being employed by the town; forbid employees from participating in hiring, termination or discipline of a relative; limit supervision of family members; and establish penalties for violations.
Last year, five top town officials resigned or were terminated, including former Highway Superintendent Thomas P. Tiernan and his sister, Helen McCann, an administrative assistant who was charged by the Nassau County district attorney’s office with embezzling cash from the town’s Solid Waste Management Agency. Tiernan’s son is a salaried parks department employee. Tiernan’s wife, Jill Guiney, is a civil engineer in the Department of Public Works.
Deputy Town Clerk Concetta Terry, Gerard Terry’s wife, resigned in June after being cited by the ethics board for failing to disclose her debts.