Frederick Ippolito, the former Town of Oyster Bay planning commissioner who pleaded guilty to federal tax charges last year, died Sunday at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts, according to officials at the prison that houses inmates who require special medical care.
Ippolito’s family confirmed that he died, said his attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City. The family did not issue a statement, Griffin said.
Neither the family nor prison officials would provide a cause of death or the circumstances surrounding it. But Ippolito was moved into a special unit for inmates with more serious medical conditions three days ago when his health took a turn for the worse and where he died, sources said.
Ippolito, 78, of Syosset, was serving a 27-month prison sentence after pleading guilty in January 2016 to evading taxes in connection with $2 million in outside consulting fees he received while working as the town’s planning and development commissioner. The money came from Carlo Lizza & Sons, a paving contractor that did business with the town, as well as from the Lizza family trust, according to federal prosecutors.
A one-time power in Oyster Bay and Nassau politics, Ippolito was sentenced in September. In addition to the prison sentence, the judge also ordered Ippolito to 3 years of supervised release and to pay nearly $550,000 in restitution.
“Frederick Ippolito served the Town of Oyster Bay for almost 40 years. His legacy, visible through the beautiful structures, well planned developments and general building character of the Town, will be felt for generations to come,” Griffin said. “Until the end, Fred fought to overturn a sentence that was both unfair and unjust. Although today is a sad day for Fred’s family and friends, it is unfortunately not surprising given his age, poor health and the sentence he received.”
Frank Antetomaso, a retired longtime Oyster Bay Town official and a close friend of Ippolito’s, said yesterday, “I’m sick over it. I knew he was very sick when he went in there. I feel very sorry for his... [family].”
Oyster Bay spokesman Brian Devine issued a statement from the town saying, “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Fred Ippolito and extend our condolences and prayers to his family during this difficult time.”
John Marzulli, a spokesman for Eastern District federal prosecutors, declined to comment.
A teenage Ippolito started working for the town as a common laborer, at times on the back of a garbage truck, and gradually worked his way up to other positions, defense attorney Griffin said at his sentencing in federal court in Central Islip.
Ippolito left the town payroll in 1988 for a number of jobs in private industry, including for Lizza, but returned in 2009 and stayed with the town until he was convicted in 2016 of the federal charges.
A lifelong Oyster Bay Town town resident, Ippolito lived in Bethpage and Syosset. He was a U.S. Army veteran and widower who had three children and three grandchildren, Griffin said.
At the time of his death, Ippolito was appealing his sentence before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. Ippolito’s attorneys alleged that although their client had pleaded guilty only to tax-evasion charges, the sentencing district court judge had apparently taken into account accusations of corruption in the Town of Oyster Bay in imposing the prison time. Federal prosecutors denied that this was a factor in the sentencing.
The three-judge appellate panel hearing Ippolito’s appeal did not indicate when they would issue a ruling.
With Christine Chung