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Denenberg, former law firm settle suit

David Denenberg, a Democratic Nassau legislator from Merrick,

David Denenberg, a Democratic Nassau legislator from Merrick, see here leaving federal court in Central Islip on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, settled a $3.6 million lawsuit with his former employer, according to court documents. Credit: Ed Betz

A $3.6 million lawsuit against Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) by his former employer alleging he fraudulently billed a client has been settled, according to documents filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The documents disclosing the dismissal, filed Monday, provide no details about the settlement reached between the lawmaker and his former employer, the Garden City law firm of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. The papers say only that a settlement was reached on Oct. 21 and both sides agreed to pay for their own legal costs.

Denenberg's attorney, Jeffrey Gold of Bellmore, said Wednesday "the parties settled the dispute," but a confidentiality agreement prevented him from discussing details.

The law firm filed suit Sept. 24, claiming Denenberg overbilled a client by $2.3 million for services never rendered. Denenberg dropped out of a State Senate race shortly thereafter. The suit prompted federal prosecutors to launch their own probe and to charge Denenberg with eight felony counts of mail fraud in November.

On Dec. 11 Denenberg said through his attorney in U.S. District Court in Central Islip that he would accept a plea deal in the federal case and plead guilty to the charges.

Lawrence Hutcher, a Manhattan-based attorney representing Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleged that between November 2006 and June of this year Denenberg billed $2.2 million to Systemax, a Port Washington-based technology firm, for "legal services never rendered." He also is accused of billing the same client for about $126,000 "for expenses never incurred."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz said last month that Denenberg had repaid a large portion of the $2.3 million and planned to repay the rest.

On Dec. 11 U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert granted Denenberg's request to delay entering his plea until Jan. 21, after his attorney argued the legislator was mourning the death of his mother.

Under state law, Denenberg's seat on the 19-member legislature would become vacant immediately after he enters his plea. Nassau would hold a special election within 60 days of the vacancy.

Denenberg did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

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