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Democrats in Oyster Bay call for town's planning and development commissioner to be fired

Frederick Ippolito, commissioner of Planning and Development, attends

Frederick Ippolito, commissioner of Planning and Development, attends an Oyster Bay Town Board meeting on Friday, Feb. 3, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Ted Phillips

Oyster Bay Democrats on Monday called for town planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito to be fired following his indictment last week on federal tax evasion charges.

The Democrats also called on town Supervisor John Venditto to reveal what he knew about Ippolito's consulting work with a contractor that has done work with the town and is named in the indictment.

"The arrest of one of John Venditto's most trusted commissioners begs the question: when and what did the supervisor know about Ippolito's decades-long affiliation with Carlo Lizza and Sons Paving Inc., one of the town's major contractors?" John Capobianco, spokesman for the Oyster Bay Democratic Committee, said in a statement.

Last Friday, Ippolito pleaded not guilty at U.S. District Court in Central Islip to six counts of tax evasion. Court papers said he failed to report more than $2 million in consulting fees from Hicksville-based Lizza and Sons, as well as a Lizza family member, from 2008 through 2013.

In an interview Monday, Venditto, a Republican, said Capobianco's comments were "politically motivated." Asked about Ippolito's status in the town, he said, "There is a great deal to absorb and consider." He declined further comment.

On Friday, Carlo Lizza and Sons declined to comment.

A number of town employees, including Ippolito, last year reported outside income on their financial disclosure forms obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request.

"The indictment raises the question about whether full-time local government employees should be able to run large consulting businesses that might be even indirectly related to their job," said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.

Ippolito, who returned to work Monday, characterized the charges as "unfounded." He said he did not receive $2 million in consulting fees and he reported his consulting income to the Internal Revenue Service.

He did say he received fees from a Lizza family trust and not the paving company.

Asked how much he was paid, he said, "None of your business" and "I have no idea."

He said the charges came as a surprise. "I had no idea what was going on until I received a call Thursday afternoon at 3 o'clock from my attorney, saying 'You got to be there tomorrow morning at 9,' " Ippolito said, referring to his surrender to federal authorities on Friday in Bethpage. "That's all I ever knew. Never did I get a phone call, did I get anything, and that's not the American way."

Ippolito complained that the Internal Revenue Service hadn't given him a chance to correct whatever problem may have existed.

"Nobody ever told me I owed a dollar," Ippolito said.

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