The war between outgoing Nassau Legis. Roger Corbin's current defense attorney and his former one has escalated in State Supreme Court in Nassau County.
Corbin is facing a criminal trial in federal court in Central Islip on charges of income-tax evasion and lying to a federal agent about $226,000 he got from a contractor who was working on urban renewal projects in his Westbury-New Cassel district.
In August, Corbin, through his current attorney, Thomas Liotti of Garden City, sued his previous attorney in the criminal case, David Bythewood of Mineola, for $10 million.
The suit, which also named Jay Salpeter, a private detective working for Bythewood, alleged that they acted incompetently in allowing the legislator to be indicted without working out some sort of settlement.
Liotti's statement in the suit was then quoted in the media, including Newsday, as saying, "Mr. Bythewood's representation of Roger Corbin throughout the entirety of this case has been so far beneath the standard of effective assistance of counsel as to render Mr. Bythewood a de facto G-man."
Bythewood has now countersued Liotti for $100 million, saying that he represented Corbin as best as he could have, but that Corbin lied to him about the circumstances of the case. As a result, Bythewood said in the countersuit, he and Salpeter spent their time trying to track down a witness who Corbin claimed could exonerate him, but who Corbin knew could not have.
Corbin had told him that the $226,000 he got from the contractor was paid to a man named Eddie Hunter, Bythewood said in the suit. In fact, Hunter had died before Corbin even received the money, Bythewood said.
In addition, Bythewood said in response papers and an interview, Corbin bounced a $150,000 check to him that was supposed to be payment for Bythewood's representing Corbin in an attempt to change the county's assessment system.
Liotti, who said he received notice of the details of Bythewood's counter suit Thursday, said, "I have not and no one in my office has made or intends to make any out of court statements regarding Mr. Bythewood. I will provide a legal response in court."
Corbin did not respond to messages left at his office and home.
Salpeter's attorney, Bruce Barket of Garden City, said Thursday that his client will vigorously defend the suit brought against him by Liotti and Corbin.
Calling that suit "frivolous and colossally stupid," Barket said it would allow prosecutors to call Bythewood as a witness against his former client. In defending himself against the accusations of professional incompetence, Bythewood is allowed to break the attorney-client privilege, Barket said.
Federal prosecutors Richard Donoghue and John Durham could not be reached for comment. Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for Eastern District federal prosecutors, declined to comment.