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Long IslandNassau

Nassau comptroller calls for legal action over IDA subpoenas

From left, Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Town

From left, Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Town Supervisor Anthony Santino, and Councilman Gary Hudes look on as the public comments on the Hempstead Town IDA during a town board meeting at Hempstead Town Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Nassau County comptroller threatened legal action against the Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency after the agency did not produce records about Green Acres Mall tax breaks for subpoenas by a Wednesday deadline.

Comptroller George Maragos said he has asked the county attorney to enforce the subpoenas in court. The county attorney’s office said Wednesday in a statement that it is reviewing the matter.

Maragos’ office filed subpoenas earlier this month as part of an audit Maragos launched in October into the tax breaks for the mall. They name IDA’s executive director, Fred Parola, then-IDA chairman Theodore Sasso, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino and Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad.

Maragos, who is running for Nassau County executive, said the subpoenas were necessary because the IDA had not cooperated with his office.

In a strongly worded letter to Maragos dated Monday, the IDA’s attorney, John Ryan, said the county comptroller has no jurisidiction over the IDA. He also called the subpoenas an “abuse of process, waste of governmental resources and intentional interference with contractual rights.”

“The public has been seriously misled by you and others,” Ryan wrote.

Hempstead Town officials responded to the subpoenas by telling Maragos that the offices of the supervisor and the clerk do not have information about the tax breaks, a town spokesman said Wednesday.

Maragos’ office sought records mostly about a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement with Macerich, the California-based owner of the mall.

Many taxpayers and politicians have blamed the PILOT for 4.6 to 12.2 percent school tax hikes, though recent reports and interviews indicate it may not have been the PILOT alone that caused the steep increases.

Sasso and five other members of the IDA board resigned on Monday. The Town Board appointed new members to replace them on Tuesday.

With John Asbury and James T. Madore


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