Former Oyster Bay Town Attorney Leonard Genova has been disbarred for “serious misconduct” and “corruptive practices,” the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division ordered Wednesday.
Genova, the longtime right-hand man of the late Town Supervisor John Venditto, turned against his former boss, testifying for the prosecution in the corruption trial of Venditto, former County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife Linda Mangano. During that trial, Genova admitted to taking bribes from restaurateur Harendra Singh.
“The respondent [Genova] committed serious misconduct by engaging in long-term corruptive practices as a public official for personal and professional benefit,” the court said in its decision. “We find the fact that the respondent committed the misconduct while serving as a public official to be a significant aggravating factor, as such actions inflict substantial damage upon the public’s trust in the integrity of lawyers, government officials, and our system of governance.”
The order followed a disciplinary proceeding brought in 2020 by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial district, Second Judicial Department.
Venditto was acquitted in the federal corruption trial, but pleaded guilty to an unrelated state corruption charge. The Manganos were found guilty of corruption charges in a later retrial.
Genova asked for a one-year suspension, citing his cooperation with prosecutors and disciplinary authorities as well as his expressed remorse and accountability, according to the order.
The court disagreed, ruling that “Under the totality of the circumstances, we find that disbarment is warranted.”
The court found that all of a series of charges brought by the disciplinary committee had been sustained and it granted the findings.
One of the disciplinary charges was that during his tenure at the town, Genova “together with others, tailored RFPs [Requests for Proposals] to give an advantage to predetermined service providers who were typically political contributors.”
One of those providers was Singh, with whom Genova met repeatedly to tailor RFPs so that “Singh obtained an advantage over others in the RFP process,” according to the order.
The charges also included Genova’s role in indirect loan guarantees so that Singh, with the town acting as a guarantor, could get multimillion dollar loans. Those guarantees were later ruled invalid in subsequent court cases.
Singh was "unqualified" to receive the loans and "In the process, the respondent jeopardized the financial well-being of the Town," the panel ruled. Genova also accepted bribes from Singh including free car service, free meals and discounts to hold events at Singh’s facilities, according to the order.
Genova was admitted to the bar in 1990 and held various positions in the Town of Oyster Bay government from 1992 to 2017, including town attorney and deputy town supervisor. The disbarment is effective immediately.
“Mr. Genova is deeply disappointed with the court’s decision,” New York City based attorney Michael Ross, who represented Genova before the grievance committee, said Wednesday. “He self reported his conduct to the court and played an invaluable role in obtaining the convictions of corrupt politicians. He’s looking forward to a new chapter in his life.”