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Search warrant executed at Hempstead Town Hall, sources say

The town seal at Hempstead Town Hall on

The town seal at Hempstead Town Hall on Sept. 24. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

Officials from the Nassau County District Attorney’s office on Monday executed a search warrant at Hempstead Town Hall, three town officials said.

The DA officials, who are members of the office’s Public Corruption Bureau, took records related to Hempstead’s Building Department from the Department of Information and Technology, the town sources said.

A DA spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Building Department Commissioner John Rottkamp said he could not comment on any investigation. A town source said the DA is investigating corruption and bribery in the building permitting process.

Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said in September that the DA’s office is investigating the Building Department. Two days later, the DA’s office announced an indictment of Hempstead Deputy Building Commissioner John Novello for allegedly stealing nearly $60,000 from the Cedarhurst Republican Committee. Novello pleaded not guilty to five counts of second- and third-degree felony grand larceny, two counts of misdemeanor petit larceny and four misdemeanor counts of violating election law.

Gillen, a Democrat, has called attention for more than a year to allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the Building Department related to its permitting process and its assessments of property damage caused by superstorm Sandy. The Republican-controlled town board has blocked her efforts to hire an outside auditor, proposing internal remedies instead.

The board voted unanimously in late September, however, to prohibit Building Department staffers from inspecting or approving plans for projects in which they or their relatives have an interest.

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