Long Beach Councilman Michael Fagen. (September 25, 2009)

Long Beach Councilman Michael Fagen. (September 25, 2009) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

A Long Beach city councilman has pleaded not guilty to grand larceny charges after he concealed his government job from the state Department of Labor to collect more than $7,000 in unemployment benefits, prosecutors said.

Michael Fagen, 54, of Long Beach, was arrested Tuesday morning by investigators and charged with third-degree grand larceny, prosecutors said. He was released without bail and is due back in court July 6.

He faces up to 21/3 to 7 years in prison, if convicted.

Fagen, a Democrat, began receiving $405 a week in unemployment insurance benefits from the Labor Department on Sept. 12, 2009, prosecutors said.

In November 2009, he was elected to a four-year term as a city councilman and began receiving a yearly salary of $19,828 upon his inauguration. Fagen failed to disclose his government employment to the Labor Department and continued to receive unemployment benefits totaling $7,108, prosecutors said. After his inauguration, he falsely certified to the Labor Department every week that he was unemployed, authorities said.

His lawyer, Fredrick Brewington of Hempstead, was at a trial and not available for comment.

Long Beach City Manager Charles Theofan and City Council President Thomas Sofield Jr. did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

"This defendant was elected to represent his community and then stole taxpayer money," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. "This is not just a violation of the law, but a violation of the trust placed in him by the people of Long Beach."

The investigation was conducted by the district attorney's office and the state Department of Labor's Office of Special Investigations.

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